Co-Lin trustees give go-ahead for $4 million Simpson Co. center

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 6, 2003

WESSON – Copiah-Lincoln Community College trustees Thursdayapproved a resolution to pursue a $4 million bond issue toconstruct an educational center in Simpson County.

Dr. Howell Garner, Co-Lin president, said the school had beenworking with Simpson County officials on the project for a numberof years. Co-Lin has been offering night courses in Simpson County,but Garner said there has not been a full-time day schedule.

“It has been a great movement by communities … in support ofCo-Lin’s expansion of programs in Simpson County,” Garner saidduring Thursday’s monthly trustees meeting.

Mickey Berry, president of the Simpson County Board ofSupervisors, presented a resolution to Co-Lin trustees in supportof the facility.

Supervisors have agreed to increase the county’s Co-Lin supportproperty tax levy to the maximum allowed three mills. Theadditional tax revenue will go to pay off the bonds, which areexpected to be issued at trustees’ September meeting, said JohnHenley, board attorney.

“That has been calculated to be sufficient to pay the bondedindebtedness,” Henley said.

The approximately 30,000-square-foot educational center,targeted for a fall 2005 opening, is slated to be built on 16thsection land near Legion Lake about halfway between Mendenhall andMagee. Garner said the location is close to Highway 49 and is inaccordance with supervisors’ wishes.

Garner said officials will be working to secure the 16th sectionlease and a lease from the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries andParks to provide access to the site. Engineers and architects forthe project will also be contacted in the next few months.

“A number of things will be happening,” Garner said. “We’re notgoing to sit back and wait for the bonds to be sold before we doany work.”

Garner said the center will offer a full range of academicprograms. Also under consideration are some business and technicalcourses.

“That’s not all decided yet,” Garner said.

The Simpson County facility will be classified as a center andnot a campus, Garner said. The state legislature must approve aneducational facility’s designation as a campus, which Garner saidmay be possible in the future.

Co-Lin currently has campuses in Wesson and in Natchez. Berrywas excited about development of the Simpson County center.

“It’ll be a start, and we hope to build up,” Berry said. “It’llbe good for us and it’ll be good for Co-Lin.”

Simpson County Superintendent of Education Jack McAlpin, aCo-Lin trustee from Magee, praised the center as the best move forSimpson County and Co-Lin.

“That’s going to be a real shining star for Simpson County,”McAlpin said.

Fellow trustees Steve Ammann, of Mendenhall, and Penny McAlpin,of Magee, also applauded the move. Ammann said the center should bea tool in helping Co-Lin attract students who may otherwise begoing to Jones County Junior College or Hinds CommunityCollege.

“We’re all excited about it,” Ammann said.

In unrelated bond activity, trustees approve the refinancing ofa 1993-94 bond issue for Co-Lin facilities in Natchez.

Henley said the school would be refinancing about $3 million ata lower interest rate and would save a minimum of $121,000. Garnersaid Adams County pays the note on the bond issue, so that countywould realize the refinancing savings.

“It couldn’t be at a better time,” Garner said, a reference to astruggling Adams County economy.

In another Adams County matter, trustees approved personnelmoves and creation of a Heating and Air-conditioning Technologyprogram at the Natchez campus. Garner said the state legislaturehad approved development of the program.

“Hopefully, this will help retrain some people for jobs in thatarea,” said Tommy Sasser, executive committee chairman ofinstruction.

Also Thursday, administration officials informed trustees thatCo-Lin’s Upward Bound program had been tentatively approved toreceive $291,176 per year for four years to fund the college’sSenior AIDES program. Senior AIDES is a work-training program forcitizens 55 and older, who do community service activities atnon-profit and government agencies.

Garner said there was some question this year whether theprogram would be funded. However, not only was it funded, theprogram acquired 20 additional slots for participants to raise thetotal 67 in 11 counties.

“It speaks well of our efforts in this part of the state toplace older adults,” said Dr. Paul Johnson, dean of thecollege.

Co-Lin is the only community college in the nation with theSenior AIDES program, Garner said.