County gives college ‘go-ahead’ on new facility

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Beaufort County Community College has gotten approval to move ahead on a key piece of its new public safety training facility.

“We are so happy that the commissioners see the benefit of the driving pad,” said BCCC President Barbara Tansey. “We have many firefighters and first responders in this area who are excited about the state-of-the-art training facilities we are building. Our fire training building has been a hit with the firefighter community. The driving pad continues our commitment to the needs of local emergency personnel.”

Monday night, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners approved the construction of a driving pad at the college which will provide training ground for first responders who drive fire trucks, ambulances and law enforcement vehicles. It will also be used during commercial driver’s license classes and future motorcycle safety classes, according to a press release from the college.

The public safety facility will be paid for through Connect NC bond funds, a capital improvements bond passed by a 30-point margin during the state’s March primary. Beaufort County Community College was allotted $6.5 million for upgrades, elevator replacement, driving pad and storage facility for emergency vehicles, a fire training facility, more classrooms and a parking lot expansion, according to the release.

Though construction had been scheduled to behind in March 2017, the project had stalled because county commissioners wanted to study the implications of the new facility — primarily, who would be paying for maintenance on the facility.

Mark Nelson, vice president of Administrative Services at the college, said the school would be charging outside agencies fees to train on the facility and use the money to set up a fund for facility maintenance. Nelson said he was contacting similar facilities to determine a price point on charging for its use. However, the county would ultimately be responsible for future maintenance of the new development.

“I would love to see where it would basically pay for itself,” Commissioner Ed Booth said.

The board voted 6-1 to move ahead with construction. Commissioner Hood Richardson cast the lone dissenting vote.