CCCC bond backers step up education, awareness efforts

Sep. 03, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Supporters say the four Central Carolina Community College bond issues Lee County residents will vote upon in November, which total $23 million, will have little to no effect on taxpayers and are all important to the college’s goals.

The total cost breaks down to a $9 million bond for a new health science building for Central Carolina Community College, a $5 million bond to renovate the college’s veterinary medical technology facility, a $4 million bond to renovate CCCC’s Emergency Services Training Center and other facilities and a $5 million bond to renovate the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.

The CCCC Bond Committee, a loose-knit group of 25 supporters of the bonds who share ties to the college, has been working to raise awareness and garner support for the bond issues and will continue to do so through November.

Jamie Kelly, chairman of the CCCC Bond Committee, said the group has adopted a marketing strategy in an attempt to clarify points of confusion and correct misinformation on the impact the bonds would have.

“[People think] that it’s going to be this huge tax burden,” Kelly said. “It’s not. If we rolled out all the bonds, all $23 million worth, at one time, it would be a 3 cent tax increase. That being said, thats not community college’s plan. ...The [total] tax burden might be a penny. It might be nothing.”

CCCC President Bud Marchant said the CCCC Board of Trustees would work closely with the Lee County Board of Commissioners to ensure as little financial impact on Lee County citizens as possible, and that it would most likely be five to seven years before all four projects were completed.

“What this referendum does is it gives the county permission to issue bonds for construction projects [for the college],” Marchant said. “It doesn’t say they have to do it the day after the election. The board of trustees will work with the commissioners to figure out how to issue bonds in a way that tax implications are as little as possible.”

Kelly said the committee already has made presentations to local groups like the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lee County Board of Education. He said area residents can expect to see more and more promotional material in the coming months until the election.

“People will start to see billboards hopefully this week,” Kelly said. “Yard signs, button stickers, a Facebook page, brochures, window posters, all that kind of stuff that raises awareness.”

Kelly and Marchant agreed that while citizens would vote on each issue separately, the  bond questions should be viewed as four parts of a single whole.


The bonds

Marchant said the health science building would house programs for phlebotomists, sleep technicians, certified nursing assistants and EKG technicians, all of which are in short supply.

“These programs have been identified as in high demand in our area,” Marchant said. “People who go through that training will be able to enter into employment almost immediately after graduation.”

The school’s veterinary medical technology program offers students an array of career options as well, and, according to Marchant, the facility requires renovations and upgrades to maintain its accreditation by the the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, which it has had since 1974.

Marchant said the renovations to the building would allow the facility to house 100 students, 36 more than its current capacity of 64.

On the need to renovate the emergency training facility, Kelly said the building lacked showers, which, due to North Carolina law, prohibits students to return to the classroom after training exercises. Marchant said the bond also would cover general repairs like a new roof for Joyner Hall, which has had the same roof since its construction in the 1970s.

The civic center bond would help outfit the facility with a small business incubator, which Marchant said would drastically increase foot traffic and visitors to downtown Sanford.

“The college has operated a small business incubator in Dunn for over 25 years now,” Marchant said. The success rate [in Dunn] is phenomenal. Dozens and dozens of business have spun out of there.

“Lots of small groups of 100 to 150 people would spend the day in Sanford for conventions if we had proper breakout space, A.V. and digital-type equipment in the building. [The incubator] would be a huge economic boon to Lee County and city of Sanford.”


Looking to the centennial

CCCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011, and Marchant said he believes all four bonds are important to the college’s success over the next 50 years.

“These projects will position us in a way that we will move in a positive direction for the college,” Marchant said. “The college has a superior track record of job creation. It’s stayed true to its mission to providing training to lead people to employment. We want to continue to move in that particular direction.”

Kelly maintains that the bond’s long-term benefits will be exponentially rewarding to Sanford and Lee County.

“There’s just a lot that this thing encompasses that’s going to touch business and economic development in our community,” Kelly said. “People will see the effects for the next 50 years.”