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Mesalands dedicates new wind center

Jose Gallegos, left, a second-year Mesalands wind energy student from Moriarti, speaks with U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Mesalands president Phillip Barry Thursday.

Russell Anglin

Mesalands Community College dedicated its new North American Wind Research and Training Center with a closed ceremony Thursday morning.

The ceremony included speeches from Mesalands president Phillip Barry, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M, Tucumcari Mayor Jim Witcher, Republican State Rep. Dennis Roch, Republican State Sen. Clint Harden, Bridget McKenney of Sandia National Laboraties, and a number of representatives from government, university and college entities.

The dedication was held in the training center's 12,400-foot blade maintenance complex, a hangar-like facility where students and technicians will be able to store and repair 120-foot wind turbine blades. The college's wind turbine will power the facility and windows and skylights in the center are designed to minimize use of electricity.

Rep. Roch expressed optimism in the state's economy going forward in his dedication address.

"As eastern New Mexico wind farms begin to sprout up and connect to the grid through transmission lines that are already being developed, even today as we speak, and through such revolutionary undertakings as the Tres Amigas project between here and Clovis ... our graduates from Mesalands will have the opportunity to live and work in the communities they grew up in. That means they'll marry here, they'll have kids here and they'll continue to live here where they grew up and to pour back into the community that invested so much in them," Roch said.

After the ceremony, Sen. Udall said Mesalands is an example of a college geared to meet the demands of tomorrow's environment and workforce.

"Now it puts Mesalands and Tucumcari out on the cutting edge," Udall said. "They're at the right place to develop a clean energy economy here, to do the research that needs to be done and to do the training and provide the jobs that need to be done."

John Hail, Mesalands wind energy technology director, said his students would start classes at the center in January.

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