College board changes gears

By Kristy D. Carter - [email protected]
Starling -

After receiving bids for the construction of a welding facility and activities center, the Sampson Community College Board of Trustees has decided to forgo the activities center and transfer efforts and funds to the new truck driver training facility.

Between funds from the Connect NC Public Improvement Bond and the United States Department of Commerce grant, the college has received nearly $6.5 million to be utilized towards new construction, repairs and renovations, including the construction of a welding and metal fabrication building and a new truck driver training facility.

Sampson Community College has been slated to receive $4,774,533 through the Connect NC bond. The $1.74 million grant will assist in paying for the new welding facility, and allow the college to utilize previous allocated funds for other capital projects.

Trustees have been pondering and discussing the best option for Sampson, and in addition to the welding and truck-driver training facilities, talks about a multi-purpose building adjacent to the current Activities Center to serve the Basic Law Enforcement Training needs and offer space for student recreation have been made.

“Our hope was to be able to use the EDA grant money and the Connect NC bond money to do a welding building and an activities center,” SCC president Dr. Bill Starling said. “However, the bid climate is different than it was at the time.”

John Farkas with JKF Architecture presented bids to the trustees, both which came in over budget.

Total bid cost for the welding building was $3,286,127. This bid was ultimately awarded to Daniels and Daniels Construction of Goldsboro. Low bidder for the activities center came from Harrod and Associates Construction at $3,094,826. Total projected cost for the two projects is $6,380,953, leaving very little funding to be used towards the truck driver training facility, which is projected to cost between $2.5-3 million.

Once the trustees were presented with the low bids, Starling asked them to make a decision about going forward with awarding the bidders or deciding to forgo the activities center at the time and concentrate on utilizing funds for the truck driver facility.

“The truck driver training facility best fits the needs of our students,” Starling explained.

The Economic Development Administration grant provides matching funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The proposed cost of the welding and fabrication facility is $2.3 million, and the grant allows for $1.75 million to be utilized in other areas, like the truck driver training facility.

Local industry leaders have been instrumental in the grant and meeting the needs of local workforce demands. The welding and metal fabrication building, a 10,000 square foot facility, will allow for the training needed to create 50 jobs and save 24 jobs at local industries.

Hog Slat, Prestage Farms, Dubose National Energy, Smithfield Hog Production, Enviva, Schindler and Robinson and Son Machines have together invested $8.8 million in private funding.

The facility will replace a smaller shop area that is currently housed in a 25-year old metal building and used for welding construction. The current location lacks proper ventilation, adequate instructional space, and cannot be renovated or expanded to adequately support the use of automated and robotic devices.

While the new facility will be located in Sampson County, surrounding counties will also benefit from the expanded facility and training services. Local industries will not only assist in writing the curriculum used to train the workers, but have a larger pool of trained individuals to pull from when hiring, therefore decreasing the local unemployment rate.

Currently, Sampson Community College has the second largest truck driving training program in the state.

“Not every community college can offer this type of program,” Amanda Bradshaw, director of continuing education, said. “There are companies across the country that have contacted us about doing advance training, but we don’t have the facility to do that. People know the quality of our program.”

Trustee Joyce Herring echoed Bradshaw’s words, saying the facility is needed.

“We need this program in our community,” Herring shared.

While trustees admitted they would like to see a new activities center at the college, and it is a project that will continue to be discussed, a vote was made to reject the low bid for the activities center project and move forward with seeking bids for the truck driver training facility.

Focus shifts from ‘activities’ to truck driving

By Kristy D. Carter

[email protected]

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.