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Co-Lin may rebuild house for president

A special committee studying the president’s home at Copiah-Lincoln Community College is almost ready to swing the wrecking ball.

Co-Lin Board of Trustees member Melton King told the board last week his committee was nearing the end of its mission to develop plans for updating the 40-year-old residence, and the members are “leaning heavily” toward demolishing the home and building anew after determining the needed renovations could cost a quarter-million dollars. He said the committee is still gathering information, but hopes to have a recommendation for the board by its October meeting.

“We are not ready to make a decision, but we have a list of pros and a list of cons,” King said. “The committee feels very strongly the president’s house should be up-to-date.”

King said the president’s home — a 3,500 square-foot, five-bedroom ranch house built in 1972 and included as part of the campus leader’s compensation — is antiquated, with small rooms that have not been updated over the years. The committee dislikes the home’s low roofline and its dependence on a septic tank, but worst of all is the home’s plumbing, which was built into the ceiling instead of the foundation.

“For whatever reason,” King said of the overhead pipes. “We have had multiple, multiple waterline bursts, at least once a year, and we’ve had to replace carpet numerous times. It’s just a big problem. It’s been 40-something years of neglect — we’ve been building dorms and trying to take care of our students rather than addressing the president’s residence.”

King’s committee was formed in 2015 to determine the best of two options — renovate the president’s home, or replace it. After early meetings, the group had decided on demolishing and replacing the residence, but former college president Ronnie Nettles, nearing the end of his career, asked the board to postpone its work.

Now in the sunrise of Jane Hulon’s presidency, the committee is back to putting pen to paper, and so far has found the needed renovations to the home could cost between $200,000 and $250,000. King said the home’s kitchen needs modernizing, the bathrooms need almost complete remodeling, all plumbing must be torn out and rerouted and front and rear porches must be installed to increase the house’s guest space.

The president’s home is not just a home, it’s a tool for the college, Hulon said.

“You want the president’s house to be comfortable for whomever is living there, but there are many other opportunities to use that space on behalf of the institution,” she said. “It is the president’s responsibility to entertain and host special events on behalf of the college — to meet with state leaders, to meet with donors, to meet with other leaders who would be partnering with the college and to host events for our top students. For those students to be welcomed to the president’s home is a special thing, and we want to be able to provide that.”

The president’s house has remained empty since Nettles’ departure, with Hulon continuing to reside in the college’s vice president’s house nearby. Co-Lin also owns a handful of older, smaller homes it uses as faculty housing when needed, but King said those homes would eventually be removed when they hit the end of their useful lives.