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November 12, 2012

ECC celebrates 45-year history

TARBORO — The past, the present and the future are all reasons for Edgecombe Community College (ECC) to celebrate its 45th anniversary in the community on Friday.

“We have had a wonderful 45-year history and we’re inviting the public to celebrate with us,” said Dr. Deborah Lamm, president of the college. “It will be exciting for us to celebrate our 45th at the same time as the [North Carolina Community College] System is celebrating its 50th.”

Dr. Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System, will speak at a ceremony of dedication and renewal at noon Friday in the Keihin Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Mobley Atrium.

“We have a great deal to celebrate,” said Mary Tom Bass, director of public information for ECC. “We serve about 14,000 people a year in both curriculum and continuing education courses…It would be difficult to find many people in Edgecombe County that have not been touched by the college in some way.”

Friday’s celebration will begin with a dedication of the wetlands trail at 11:15 a.m. A ribbon cutting will be held at the entrance to the trail at the college’s Tarboro campus.

George Anderson, sustainability coordinator for ECC and member of the Rotary Club of Tarboro, spearheaded the wetlands project.

“He done a wonderful job of making what was maybe a dream for him a reality,” Lamm said. “I’ve very excited about the fact that we have a living laboratory project here.”

The wetlands area encompasses between 25 and 30 acres on the northeastern end campus, while the walking trail is less than one-quarter mile long. Beavers have built dams in the area, which has created an “ecosystem,” said Anderson.

“It helps the environment because we’re preserving an area somewhat in its natural state,” Anderson said. The project also will give students in the field of natural sciences firsthand experience studying wildlife and testing water quality.

“A big emphasis in the community college system is that we give people hands-on, practical experience,” Anderson said.

The project earned Anderson the community service of the year award for 2011-2012 for the Rotary Club of Tarboro and was instrumental in earning the Club “platinum” status during Lamm’s tenure as Club president. The Club is in partnership with the college and the Student Government Association in funding the project.

The wetlands trail will be open to the public, and Lamm said it will add to the trails already available in the Town of Tarboro by giving residents another place “to learn, to relax, to exercise.”

The college has come a long way, from humble beginnings in an old prison building to 11 buildings on 125 acres of land today, between the Tarboro and Rocky Mount campuses.

Today, the college offers more than 100 degree, diploma and certificate programs, including 22 health and sciences programs and 23 business and technologies programs.

What hasn’t changed at ECC is the “ability to respond very quickly to employer needs,” Bass said.

“We work very closely with business and industry and always have,” she said. On Election Day, Edgecombe County residents voted in favor of a quarter-cent sales tax increase, which will fund the construction of a workforce training center on the Tarboro campus and a biotechnology and simulation center on the Rocky Mount campus.

“That will simply increase and strengthen our ability to serve the community through education and training programs,” Bass said, adding the community has always been “very generous and very supportive” of the college.

 “The future is bright” at ECC, Lamm said, and the college is constantly working on new initiatives to fulfill its mission of “improving the quality of life of our citizens.”

“We want to be their lifetime partner in training and education and cultural arts,” Lamm said.

Among the new, innovative projects at ECC are the mobile simulation lab at the T.S. Fleming Building, the advanced manufacturing lab at the J.F. Havens Building and the renovation of the Norfleet House. Tours of all three will be available beginning at 1 p.m. Friday as part of ECC’s anniversary celebration.

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