One year ago, Ravalli County voters expressed their desire for a community college and even elected seven people to serve as trustees for a college district that had not yet been created. Currently, the classes in Hamilton at Bitterroot College UM are run as an outreach program from Missoula's University of Montana.

The 2021 Montana Legislature recently passed and Governor Gianforte signed a bill allowing creation of the Bitterroot Community College District. The legislation was supported by all the valley's representatives and senators with essential help from Representative Bedey and Senator Ellsworth. Now, finally, the trustees can be officially sworn in and can begin having organizational meetings that will determine how the district will function.

The public ceremony will be Wednesday, May 12, at the Ravalli County Commissioners Office at 9 a.m. The trustees are Linda Doughty, Don Gardner, Gary Carlson, Marci Smith, Sue Smith RAN Pigman and Janet Woodburn.

Until this time, the trustees-elect have been working to get the district approved by the Board of Regents and the Legislature. A Montana community college district hasn't been created in over 50 years. The board figures it will take some time to work out the details and put the district into operational mode.

Board Chair Linda Doughty said, "We have worked diligently over the past year and would like to thank all parties involved in this process - the Montana Board of Regents, the Commissioner of Higher Education's Office and our State Legislators. Our vision for this new community college district is to be an accessible, affordable educational resource. One that benefits both traditional and non-traditional students, as well as having the flexibility to offer programs tailored to the specific needs of our local economy."

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