Bond projects bring updates, job opportunities

Published 10:38 pm Sunday, August 20, 2017

Beaufort County Community College is already seeing results from the $2 billion Connect NC bond package, approved via voter referendum more than a year ago.

The main projects in the works at the college include improvements to handicapped accessibility, as well as construction of a Public Safety Training Complex. Both projects are in the planning stage as of now, according to a press release.

BCCC was promised more than $6.5 million from the Connect NC bond, most of which would go toward the complex, including a driving pad for training with emergency vehicle. The handicapped-accessibility improvements include signage, road-crossing improvements, elevator repairs and push buttons at buildings 1, 5 and 9.

“Our campus was laid out and built over the course of 50 years. Much of the construction took place before there was consideration as to the mobility needs of students with disabilities,” BCCC President Dr. David Loope said. “These projects will allow us to connect our buildings together in a more appropriate and thoughtful way.”

For the Public Safety Training Complex, bond money will fund construction of a 500-by-600-foot driving pad and a new building with space for more personnel training. The college also recently built a “burn building” at the complex site for use with training exercises.

Billy Respess, director of EMS programs at BCCC, said the projects will make a difference for instructors and students, especially those in the certified emergency-vehicle operator course.

“We can only do the classroom portion because we really don’t have anywhere to do the driving portion,” Respess said. “The driving pad is going to be very huge for that because … we’re going to be able to expand that course.”

He said those in the EMS program are also hoping for a simulation lab in the new building, as well, to complement the simulation mannequin the college purchased last year. Storage space will also be an added bonus, he said.

Having those resources will make BCCC graduates more competitive when it comes time to look for a job. Agencies from Wake County have already shown interest in the soon-to-be graduates in the program now, Respess said.

“Most systems and most agencies want their providers to have that course,” he said. “We need that extra space with the growing need of paramedics.”

Respess said that although the outcome of these projects will be a little less than what was originally planned, the EMS program is still excited to see the results and utilize new resources.

“There’s a dire shortage of paramedics,” he said. “Expanded classrooms will only open up more opportunities.”