SWIC board approves solar project, parking structure

News-DemocratJuly 17, 2013 

The Southwestern Illinois College Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a plan to spend $419,320 to build a solar array and Sun-Arbor parking structure at the school's Belleville campus.

The project will include canopies over parking spaces similar to the carports that can be seen at upscale apartment developments in the area. But, instead of only shading and protecting cars below them from the elements, the canopies will have solar panels on top that collect energy from the sun to be used to power campus buildings.

SWIC spokesman Mike Fleming said $250,000 of the cost of the project will come from the Illinois Green Economy Network through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

"The rest, a little less than $170,000, will be covered by SWIC's utilities budget," Fleming said. "We expect the project to significantly reduce the cost of energy for the campus. We project that we'll save about $17,000 annually. At that rate, the initial investment will be recovered in about nine years."

In other business, the board approved motions to:

* Hire Frank Miles to be executive director of the Sam Wolf Granite City Campus at a salary of $85,000 a year. Miles will replace retired former director Chuck Whitehead who worked at SWIC 20 years. Miles most recently was business development manager for the Tri-City Port District and was Madison County Treasurer before that. He has a master's degree in public administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

*Hire a full-time registration co-ordinator, Sarah Hellin, at the Belleville Campus at a salary of $47,000.

* Hire a full-time public safety officer, Cameron Rettig, at $37,149 a year.

Fleming said all of the new hires, including several other faculty positions, were replacements for employees who retired or resigned. He said all of the new workers' salaries are lower than the pay of the people they replaced.

*Adjust course fees for seven art classes from $15 per semester to $20, according to Fleming. He said it was necessary to cover increased costs.

SWIC President Georgia Costello announced at the meeting that Wednesday was her fifth anniversary at the helm of the college.

"I can't believe how quickly the time has passed," Costello said. "But I am looking forward to next year."

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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