WELLINGTON — Voters in Sumner County on Nov. 8 approved a countywide tax for an expansion of Cowley College into the county.

Preliminary numbers showed 5,173 of the 9,477 votes cast, or 54.6 percent, were in favor of the new half-cent sales tax.

The purpose of the tax is “to construct and operate a new campus in Sumner County, as well as expand workforce training opportunities across the county.” The new campus likely will be located in the county seat of Wellington and could replace the current facility in Mulvane.

Members of the Cowley College Board of Trustees already have begun to search for appropriate real estate in Sumner County, following their last board meeting.

Most recently, however, the college received unanimous support from the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority to expand into Sumner County.

This initiative would open doorways to change individuals’ lives by being able to offer an accessible, affordable education in Sumner County.

The push for the expansion into Sumner has been going on for more than a year, but stormed into high gear with a series of public forums and a public campaign in recent months. Cowley College President Dennis Rittle called the prospect of the new campus “transformational.”

The Sumner County sales tax is set to increase to 1 percent with this vote and the approval, by an even larger margin, for four more years of an existing half-cent sales tax to support health care services in the county.

In Wellington, which also has dedicated sales taxes to support the local regional medical center, the rate will climb to 9.5 percent.