WINSTED — Gov. M. Jodi Rell stopped at Northwestern Connecticut Community College tonight and signed legislation pushed by Rep. John Rigby that would allow the school to pursue federal money in its bid to create a nursing program. College officials have sought to build a nursing program in Winsted to address the statewide shortage of nurses as well as a dearth of Northwest Corner training opportunities for people interested in the profession. At present, students must drive far outside the area for such courses—if they’re able to get a seat.The bill allows the college to apply for a spot on the list of projects eligible for federal stimulus money set aside for Connecticut. Rigby, a member of the legislature’s Higher Education Committee, believes the college would be eligible for money from $200 million set aside for Health Care Workforce development.
A variety of local and state officials came to the event inside the school’s Arts and Sciences building, including Winsted’s mayor, Kenneth Fracasso, and state Sen. Kevin Witkos. Rell and college President Barbara Douglass gave Rigby a nod for his work to push the bill, and Rigby in his remarks credited the folks that got the college’s nursing program plans to where they are today, such as Sen. Andrew Roraback, Rep. Roberta Willis and local chamber of commerce leader JoAnn Ryan.
The school, through a private capital campaign, has raised nearly $1 million on its own but needs more money for its efforts to create a nursing lab, hire faculty and pay for other operational expenses. Rigby in March saw the Higher Education committee give unanimous support to the concept, and both the Senate and House passed the bill.
Rigby, of Colebrook, stressed that the proposed legislation would only allow the college to apply for federal stimulus money and could not guarantee its allocation.