MADISON – Ten months ago, official with Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College approached the Boone County Commission about its desire to purchase a piece of county property for possible expansion plans.
“We are interested in land near the Boone County Transfer Station just off Corridor G (U.S. 119),” said Bill Cook, the college’s director of operations, at that meeting.
Last week, college president and West Virginia First Lady Joanne Tomblin and Cook were back to finalize the deal.
“We are here today to let you know we are going to purchase the property,” Tomblin said.
The purchase will take place after July 1, 2013, according to Tomblin.
“It will take us that long to get the check processed,” she said.
Tomblin said Southern does not have any agenda as far as what they will do with the property initially.
“We might look for other entrepreneurial ventures we can come with initially to assist the community and real-type things for our students to be involved in,” she told commissioners.
She added that Southern will know more by next year.
“Next year, the college will undergo a new master facilities planning session with an architect for all of our campuses and at that time we will engage some of our campus folks with some of our community folks with what we will be able to do with the property.”
Tomblin said the long-term goal is to put a new campus facility in Boone County on the property when funding becomes available.
The college has a Boone Campus at the Boone Career and Technical Center in Danville, near Foster on state Rt. 3, but needs more room to accommodate its increasing enrollments, she said.
“Our Boone County Campus is maxed out,” Tomblin said. “We are seeing more and more students coming in from the Kanawha Valley and we must look down the road at expanding in Boone County as a big part of our future plans.”
Tomblin said this would be a great opportunity for both the college and the county.
“We think our expansion will also provide great economic opportunities for Boone County as well,” she said. “This is a win-win for the college and the Boone County community.”
Southern was recently named one of the top community and technical colleges in the nation.
“With our facilities in Logan and Williamson as well as the great success of our mine academy, we believe there are tremendous educational and economic opportunities for us to expand,” Tomblin explained. “We would like to meet with you and your economic development team to share ideas and see what the next steps might be toward our expansion goals.”
Tomblin added that there were no plans to shut down the current Boone County Campus, even after any expansion project was completed.
“We have no plans to shut down the current campus in Boone County,” she said. “We want to keep it as well as expanding in Boone County at the location we have mentioned.”
Boone County Commission President Mickey Brown called the college’s expansion proposal “thrilling news.”
“We would be thrilled and happy to work with the college to expand into Boone County,” Brown said. “The educational opportunities offered by Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College are wonderful and to expand on those opportunities is something we can all get excited about.”
Boone Commissioner Eddie Hendricks, who is an educator at Van High School, said he also supports the college’s plan to expand in Boone County.
“Our new age of technology has made technical schools like Southern vitally important to students and those seeking to further their education or re-train in another career path,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity and I support it 100 percent.”
Boone County Commissioner Athol l Halstead wanted a commitment from the college that it would not turn around and sell the 11-acre piece of property and that it would be used for education.
“That is our long-term goal,” Tomblin said. “We want to build another campus there to go along with new programming and courses we are planning for in this region.”