The Connect NC Public Improvement Bond earned a nod of approval during the March election, steering local college officials to begin thinking about improvements and facilities that will continue to move the institute in a positive direction.
In March, the $2 billion bond passed, leaving an impact on 76 counties, including Sampson, with roughly a two-thirds majority across the state. The bond includes $4,774,533 for new construction, repairs and renovations at Sampson Community College. While the exact avenues to spend the money haven’t been determined, SCC president, Dr. Paul Hutchins, does realize the possibilities among the campus.
“This is a huge opportunity for the college to make important changes to the physical plant to move us forward into the future,” Hutchins said during an interview from his office Tuesday morning, where he sat down to talk about the college’s needs.
As part of the $2 billion bond, $980 million will be invested into the state’s 17 universities. The vast majority of these improvements will build facilities that will improve teaching and research in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Additionally, $350 million will go to the state’s 58 community colleges, including Sampson, primarily for new construction, repairs and renovations on the 58 campuses.
“There is obviously not enough money to satisfy all the college’s needs,” Hutchins attested. “What we are getting is a good start to make the necessary improvements needed here at the college.”
According to Hutchins, a compliance assessment was done by the state and based on the criteria and regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the college currently isn’t in full compliance. While there are elevators in some of the buildings that allow students and visitors in wheelchairs access to the Kitchin Building, there is no elevator in that specific building. This type of renovation is just one of the options for the bond funds.
“The state found a few things out of compliance that we will have to address,” Hutchins said.
The local college president said such a massive bond is an opportunity that does not often come up. Financial obstacles facing many local entities make a measure very much needed — and welcomed.
The exact plans for the bond money have not been approved, but Hutchins said over the course of the next year, the college and the board will begin planning how to use the funds and start initiating requests to the board, county and state.
Speaking about generalities, Hutchins said possible uses of the funds include getting the college in full compliance concerning the ADA matters, build some additional buildings or additions to current facilities, construct a multipurpose building, improve the current welding facility and improve the college’s science labs.
“I would really like to see us in full compliance with the ADA,” Hutchins shared. “Adding additional space that is needed at the college would provide a more well rounded college experience for all our students.
Hutchins and other college officials have been working with an architect on updating SCC’s master plan. During the August board meeting, the architect will present his findings and proposal to the board, hoping for approval at the September meeting.
“We are looking at what we have and what we need,” Hutchins said. “Our goal is to move the college forward and help position the college to be a better facility in five, 10 or 15 years.”
Additional state plans
Another $309.5 million will be awarded to smaller cities and towns to build and repair water and sewer systems, investments North Carolina governor Pat McCrory has said are crucial to retaining and attracting new jobs outside of the state’s metro areas.
Also included in Connect NC Bond, approximately $94 million will be spent to construct a new Agriculture and Consumer Sciences Lab for veterinary, food, drug and motor fuel testing. An additional $85 million will go toward a new Plant Sciences Research Complex at NC State University.
The National Guard will receive $70 million to rehabilitate Regional Readiness Centers in Burke and Wilkes counties as well as construct a new readiness center in Guilford. The bond will also invest $75 million into state parks. An additional $25 million will go the North Carolina Zoo for upgrades to service support facilities, trails and exhibits.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.