Fort Bragg residents, officials lobby to keep college open

Fort Bragg residents and officials are mounting a campaign to prevent their small but beloved satellite community college campus from being mothballed.

"The college is not going away," said Dave Turner, the determined mayor of the coastal city of some 7,000 residents.

Eureka-based College of the Redwoods President Kathy Smith sent shock waves through the former timber town when she recommended that classes at the Fort Bragg campus be suspended for an undetermined period of time, beginning in the fall.

"Hearing the threat to our beloved campus left community members devastated, even demoralized," local college trustee Barbara Rice wrote in the Fort Bragg Advocate News.

On Monday, college officials will hold a meeting at the Fort Bragg town hall to take public comment on proposed suspensions of classes both in Fort Bragg and Garberville.

College officials say the suspension is not a closure, but they have not said when college courses might be reinstated on the campus, located at the south end of Fort Bragg. The college's well-known woodworking program, set in a different location, will not be affected, officials said.

State budget cuts and declining enrollment are among the factors forcing the suspension, according to college officials.

"Not enough students are enrolling to cover the fixed personnel and facility costs," according to a college report on the proposal.

It's a district-wide problem that has forced the college to consider curtailments at other campuses as well, officials said.

Enrollment at the Fort Bragg campus has declined from about 350 full-time equivalent students in 2009 to 172 this year, according to the report.

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