The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 1, 2012

Vote ‘yes’ for ECC quarter-cent sales tax

Deborah Lamm

TARBORO — This summer I had the opportunity to talk about my role as president of Edgecombe Community College (ECC) as part of the Edgecombe County Public Library’s story time. As I began, I asked more than 50 children if they had ever heard of Edgecombe Community College. Hands popped up all over the room.

“Do you know anyone who has ever attended Edgecombe?” I asked. Little voices rang out, “My mother goes to Edgecombe … my father went to Edgecombe … my sister… .” I explained that my “school” was different from their school in that “grownups” go to my school—grownups like police officers, fire fighters, nurses, teachers, and auto mechanics.

I explained that grownups learn the skills they need to get a job and be successful at my school. We continued talking about our “schools,” and I ended my time with the children by saying, “I hope that when you grow up you will choose to attend ECC.” Hands sprang up and voices exclaimed, “I want to go to ECC!” “Great!” I said, “I’ll see you there!”

Why would these children know someone who attends or who has attended ECC? Because the college serves more than 14,000 people a year in both curriculum and continuing education courses.

It would be difficult to find many citizens in Edgecombe County who have not been touched by the college in some way — either directly or indirectly. Citizens have either graduated from the college or have taken classes, or they have family or friends who have been enrolled. Those who haven’t attended have received a service from a graduate: they’ve received care by a nurse, they’ve had an X-ray at a hospital, they’ve used an electrician at their home, and the list goes on.

Enrollment has grown exponentially since 1967 when the college was first established. The campus footprint has grown as well to keep up with the increase in student enrollment. The college has expanded from a single building on the Tarboro campus to a multi-campus college with a second campus on the Edgecombe side of Rocky Mount. The college’s total footprint covers 125 acres with 11 buildings. Our facilities have served us well over the years, but as the college increases in student enrollment and expands its programs and services to meet workplace demands, space is at a premium.

The college has the opportunity to address its space needs in the future with the help of Edgecombe County voters. The Edgecombe County Commissioners have approved a ? cent sales tax referendum on the November 6 ballot.

If passed, the sales tax proceeds will enable Edgecombe Community College to move forward with the planning, design, and construction of its top two priorities:

• The Biotechnology and Simulation Center on the Rocky Mount campus

• The Workforce Training Center on the Tarboro campus

Priority: Biotechnology and Simulation Center

Health sciences programs have long been a hallmark of the college. In 2011-2012, the college served 1418 health sciences students, an increase of 342 over the year prior. Waiting lists for students seeking admission are common among the school’s twenty-two health sciences programs.

In order to expand and prepare the next generation of health care workers, the college needs a new facility equipped with the latest technology. The proposed Biotechnology and Simulation Center will house twelve of the college’s twenty-two health sciences programs, including CT, MRI, medical assisting, medical office administration, medication aide, nursing assistant, phlebotomy, radiography, respiratory therapy, and surgical technology.

Special features of the 45,000-square-foot facility will be a simulated hospital environment to provide realistic training opportunities for health sciences students and a medical and environmental health technology laboratory.

Experts predict that the health care industry will add jobs in the future, so Edgecombe Community College is adding programs to help meet that demand. Proposed new programs include asthma education certification, breastfeeding/lactation therapy, geriatric aide, health coach, home care aide, and mammography.

While the college is preparing students to become successful health care professionals, it also is training skilled members of the workforce.

Priority: Workforce Training Center

The construction priority for the Tarboro campus is the Workforce Training Center, a center directly impacting skill sets of local business and industry. The new facility will centralize the college’s workforce development programs, including training for business and industry, criminal justice, emergency medical services, fire and rescue, law enforcement, and warehouse and logistics.

In 2011-2012 the college served 1228 individuals in fire, emergency medical services, and law enforcement training and 976 employees in local industries. About 95 percent of all public safety personnel in Edgecombe County receive training at Edgecombe Community College.

The proposed 24,000-square-foot building will feature large training rooms designed for EMT, fire and rescue, and law enforcement training. In addition, a dedicated industry work cell will enable new industry in the county to launch operations on a small scale while their permanent sites are being constructed. Existing industry could utilize the work cell to test new initiatives, and small businesses could operate in the facility while they build their client base.

Help Us Make It Happen

The college understands that the local economy is still struggling from high unemployment and a flat economy; however, post-recovery jobs require top quality training, training that is best provided in modern facilities with up-to-date technology.

The revenue from the quarter-cent sales tax would provide the funding stream to move forward with the planning, design, and construction of these two priorities without an increase in property taxes. After all, providing advanced facilities for the training of these men and women improves the lives of all Edgecombe residents.

Our goal at the college is to provide programs and job training to promote economic recovery for all Edgecombe citizens — and it will continue to be. When our children grow up they need a local higher education option where they can receive exceptional training at a reasonable cost. We’re committed to providing that option, but we need your help.

Please support Edgecombe Community College. Vote “yes” for the quarter-cent sales tax on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

(Deborah Lamm is president of Edgecombe Community College.)