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Published: Sunday, 3/4/2012

Hocking College considers leasing land for oil, gas exploration


NELSONVILLE, Ohio — A southeast Ohio college is considering leasing some of its land for oil and gas exploration or production.

The chairman of the Hocking College board says Charleston, W.Va.-based Cunningham Energy contacted the school about 1,200 acres of land near the Nelsonville campus, bordering Wayne National Forest.

Leasing the land could help the cash-strapped school. The Athens Messenger reports the college faces a $2.9 million budget deficit and could get $3 million from a lease deal.

A task force is looking into the proposal. President Ron Erickson says members must consider how leasing the land could aid the college’s educational mission before making a decision.

He says it’s not yet clear how the school can best respond to the workforce needs of the growing oil and gas industry in Ohio.

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