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Co-Lin board remembers late faculty member

The Copiah-Lincoln Community College Board of Trustees began Thursday’s meeting with heavy hearts as President Ronnie Nettles recognized an instructor who died this week.

Nettles said the campus was mourning the death of Jermaine Berry, 39. Berry, an automotive instructor, apparently suffered from a heart condition. Nettles said Berry had a bright future ahead of him. Berry, who originally dropped out of Co-Lin, returned to school a few years later.

“We were so impressed with him that we moved him into a lab position,” Nettles said.

Berry, as a sophomore, often helped freshmen. As soon as he graduated from the automotive technology program, Co-Lin offered him an instructor position. Since his death, Nettles said they have been making sure students and colleagues are looked after. Berry’s funeral will be Saturday at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

The board, which didn’t meet in March due to inclement weather, also discussed several projects to expand offerings at other campuses. All the programs discussed are currently offered at the Wesson campus.

The board approved an early child education technology program at the Simpson County Center. The past year, there has been a pilot program that partnered with the Five County Head Start in Simpson County. Head start approached Co-Lin and requested the program.

The other two expansions stem from the Department of Labor’s TAACCT grant – one in diesel technology and one in commercial truck driving. The TAACCT grant will cover costs for three years. Both programs, which will be located at the Natchez campus, should help increase employment projections in the Co-Lin district.

Jane Hulon, vice president of instruction, said that currently commercial truck driving is offered at the Natchez campus through the Workforce Division, but it is considered a non-credit program. With the expansion, the program will become credit-based and allow students to qualify for the Pell grant.

In other business, the board approved the following:

•   The re-appointment of current committee members to the budget committee – Steven Ammons, Chuck Gilbert, Willie Harrison, Johnny Pyles and Roy Winkworth.

•   The work schedule for office personnel for May 18 through July 31 will be 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

•   The resignation of Viveca Johnson as academic counselor in Natchez, Shelley Smith as chemistry instructor in Wesson and James Wiggins as history instructor in Natchez (retirement).

•   The hiring of Benjamin Davis as a full-time police officer in Natchez, Junior Noel as soccer coach in Wesson and Juanita Proffitt as band director.

•   The suspension of the practical nursing program at the Natchez campus due to low enrollment and low graduation rates. The program allows for 15 students, and only seven students are currently enrolled. The suspension will not affect the current students in the program. Nettles said the one-year suspension will allow Co-Lin administration to find a quality long-term instructor as well as expand the applicant pool.

•   Nettles reported to the board that rough estimates from the Legislature indicate that Co-Lin will receive $11,000 specifically for prevention of unplanned pregnancy, $184,000 for capital improvements which will help to repair bathrooms in the Henley Building in Wesson and expand the Career Tech Building in Natchez, $1.3 million in bond funds and a 1.8 percent, or $148,000, increase in E&G budget. Nettles said he hopes to use the bond funds on a new women’s dormitory.