The work of Sampson Community College students can be seen across the community, from welded metal dog art at Fisher Park to houses built by the college’s students and set up on local lots. The latest construction venture, complemented by donations from local businesses, is saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
SCC’s Building Construction Technology department, under the leadership of Barney Grady, established a partnership with the county last year that has seen a 30-by-60 foot shelter erected at the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office on Fontana Street.
The project is now nearing completion.
The shelter will house the sheriff’s Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) MaxxPro armored truck and a trailer containing various equipment, along with other sheriff’s vehicles and equipment as deemed necessary.
The MRAP, a towering 20-ton beast that goes for about $650,000 brand new, was obtained last year through the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Sampson was able to get one with a mere 2,500 miles on it free of cost, minus maintenance. The vehicle will aid in disaster relief, raids, hostage situations and various other responses.
Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith, who oversaw the shelter project on the county end, said that sizable piece of property, along with the various equipment and materials housed in trailers, are investments that sheriff’s officials want to protect from the elements.
“This is going to prolong that equipment,” said Smith.
The project has been ongoing since May 2017. Last year, Jimmy Sinclair, of J.E. Sinclair Construction, helped erect trusses for the large building and other community partners pitched in necessary materials for the project. Metal roofing went up last week, one of the final steps for SCC in the shelter’s construction.
On the educational end, the county project exposed students to a different type of construction, to include building layout, cranes and metal roofing.
“They got an opportunity to do some metal roofing,” said Grady. “There were some commercial aspects they don’t get in our residential classes. It gives them a little experience of the type of construction that is done on farms and at poultry houses. They can take a lot of that and use that knowledge elsewhere.”
Sheriff’s officials estimated they saved $10,000 to $15,000 in labor alone. With materials thrown in, the cost of the total shelter would likely have been double that, Smith said, offering a conservative estimate in the range of $30,000-$35,000.
“These guys have done a great job,” said Smith, “and we’ve saved a lot. We’ve been trying to get a shelter for years, so we’ve been fortunate through this project. Whenever there are projects like this, we try to do it as a cost savings measure. This is not something that is going to pillage the taxpayers.”
The 30-by-60 foot structure has a roof that is 20 feet tall at its peak (14-foot clearance).
Grady said there were 20 different students who worked on the shelter, with various disciplines practiced throughout the process. The SCC’s Building Construction Technology division students came from blueprinting and carpentry classes, as well as others.
Materials were provided by Southeastern Building Products in Clinton, C&R Building Supply in Autryville and Lowe’s Home Improvement of Clinton.
“We appreciate their help in donating,” said Smith, noting just nominal expenses for the Sheriff’s Office, including contracting out the work for the cement foundation. “This has been very beneficial and cost-effective to the county based on the help we got. We have been frugal and good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton praised SCC officials, students and the many who donated materials to bring what would otherwise have been a costly project to fruition.
“Anytime someone is willing to donate something, that gets the community involved in their Sheriff’s Office and helps us out,” said Thornton. “I’m all for anyone willing to help us.”
The sheriff said the partnership with the college has proven beneficial on both sides, with students getting on-the-job training and the Sheriff’s Office receiving a necessary addition with optimal cost savings. The sheriff said he is extremely grateful for the work.
“It’s been a learning experience for those students and I’m glad the college was willing to allow them to do that,” Thornton remarked. “It’s appreciated greatly.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.