Grant funds pay off at Wayne Community College
By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 10, 2013 1:50 AM
Wayne Community College President Dr. Kay Albertson, right, leads Wayne County Commissioners Bill Pate, center, and Joe Daughtry as she gives a tour of the campus at Wayne Community College. Commissioners were given a first-hand tour of the college, taking in information about the departments and programs before going into their daily session.
Commissioner John Bell looks over the campus during Friday's tour.
Wayne Community College President Dr. Kay Albertson told a joint meeting of college trustees and Wayne County commissioners this week that the college cannot rely solely on state appropriations to do all that it needs to do.
Instead, the college works to leverage funds, such as grants, to do so and currently has $3.5 million in active grants and another half-million dollars pending.
Commissioners were on campus for a brief tour of the facilities and a look at the college's nursing, dental, transportation and heating and air conditioning programs.
Following the tour, they joined trustees for lunch and presentations on the WORKS initiative and workforce development.
"On Dec 6 this facility and staff were doing a happy dance because we received almost $2 million from Golden LEAF," Mrs. Albertson said. "That is through hard work and a lot of visioning on the part of some great students and staff members.
"(County Manager) Lee Smith has to be complimented for having the vision to help push Wayne Community College with this. We thank you very much. You did us a real service."
Dr. Todd King, chairman of the engineering and manufacturing technologies department, said the Golden LEAF Community Assistance Grant will benefit the college's industrial systems technology and electronic engineering technology programs.
The grant was written for training and obtaining credentials for students so they will be job ready when they graduate, he said.
"There are two sides to this," he said. "On the academic side, we train people that are looking for a skill. Then we get them employed. On the flip side, with our occupational extension continuing education side of our business we will train people who are already out in the work force.
"We are hoping to not be behind the curve on this, but to be ahead of the curve. So employers will come and see our technology and want to implement those types of things in their facility."
It will also mean the college will be adding state-of-the-art equipment, he said.
Mrs. Albertson said college officials believe those programs and equipment will be used by the Wayne County Economic Development Alliance as a marketing tool for the county.
King agreed and added it might help the county attract businesses that it has been unable to up to this point.
"That is a lot of (grant) money, a lot of grant writing and a lot of oversight," Mrs. Albertson said. "But we could not do it from our state dollars.
"So commissioners, we want you to know that we are really trying to make those funds work in the best possible way. We are going to be showcasing a lot. You are going to be helping us find a building to do this."
"I knew that was coming," commission Chairman Steve Keen joked. "It was just early."
Mrs. Albertson said trustees would be traveling to Lee County to tour a building given by businesses and others to Central Carolina Community College to house a program.
"I say that you have got to help us find a building, and you do," she said. "I am not shy in asking for those things. We don't want millions of dollars, we just want a building."
Commissioner Ed Cromartie of Mount Olive, who later suggested more outreach education programs, asked if WCC could use a building in Mount Olive.
"Can we use one in Mount Olive? Well, we will have to talk about that," she said.
WCC's budget for 2011-12 was approximately $38 million, of which 11 percent was funded by the county, she said.
Mrs. Albertson thanked Smith and commissioners for their continued support.
"I shared with several of you as we were walking along and looking at this incredible campus, that your $3.9 million contribution to us this past year is what you are seeing when you look at the grounds, when you look at how well these buildings are up kept, when you look at the multiple people who essentially help who help us to be a real centerpiece in Wayne County," she said.
WCC is preparing to celebrate its 56th anniversary, while the state system is just 50 years old, she pointed out.
The college started with 14 programs and now has more than 100. In 1962, it had 492 students compared to 3,961 today, not including the 14,000 to 15,000 in continuing education, she said.
Mrs. Albertson also noted that thousands of county residents visit the campus for cultural enrichment or use it for programs.
WCC is about partnerships and offering programs aimed at preparing students for the workforce, she said.
Pointing out the window, she said that the campus encompasses 175 acres.
"That land out there belongs to the trustees of Wayne Community College," she said. "My vision is, and I sure won't be around, but my vision is that in 25 more years you will see this beautiful footprint here flipped over to that land and that many more buildings, that many more programs, that many more activities that can serve Wayne County."
She briefly touched on future plans -- the top project of which is a $9.98 million energy plant, site work and parking
"We know that based upon the architects work with us as we developed our long-range plan if we don't have a new energy plant we can't do one thing," she said. "No more building, no more renovations.
"So obviously that is our No. 1 priority. I am sure you will continue to see those priorities in our county budget on an annual basis as poor Lee has seen them for the past how many years -- at least the past six budgets that I have presented to him."