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Major West Harnett Center grant received

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SANFORD - A $647,620 Facilities and Equipment grant from the North Carolina Community College System will turn a planned West Harnett Center for Central Carolina Community College into a reality.

Ground could be broken as early as January for the 8,500-square-foot facility, which will be located in the Western Harnett Industrial Park, off Highway 87. The Center will house a barbering program, welding shop,rncomputer lab for computer-related classes, two classrooms and a multi-purpose shop.

"We can now move forward with our commitment to the citizens in western Harnett County," said Bill Tyson, CCCC Harnett County provost. "Hopefully, we'll be in the new building by the end of 2007."

The Center will offer worker training for companies who locate in the park and the area, as well as educational opportunities for residents of western Harnett County. Residents currently travel to Sanford, Lillington, Fayetteville or Pinehurst to attend a community college.

"We are delighted that the NCCCS awarded us the full amount requested in order to complete the Center," said Dr. Matt Garrett, CCCC president. "Western Harnett is experiencing rapid growth and that will only increase as Base Realignment and Closure brings more military personnel and related businesses to the area. The Center will be a major benefit to the college and the community."

In 2006, the General Assembly budgeted $15 million to the NCCCS for statewide community college facility and equipment needs. The NCCCS awarded grants based on applications from community colleges for projects to be funded. Of the 58 community colleges in the state, 55 applied for grants. CCCC was one of only 18 that received a grant.

The college has wanted to build a center in western Harnett for several years. In 2003, the Harnett Forward Together Committee, an organization devoted to economic development in the county, gave the college 15 acres on which to build in the Western Harnett Industrial Park.

CCCC and the county Board of Commissioners budgeted about $1.17 million for construction of an 8,500-square-foot facility. The project was bid in June, but the low bid was $1.97 million, $800,000 over budget due to inflation in the cost of construction materials. The commissioners agreed to provide an additional $150,000 as a grant match, if the college could obtain the NCCCS grant.

Thursday, Garrett announced to a meeting of the HFTC, that he had received word that the college would be approved for the grant. That approval was officially completed at a Friday meeting of the NCCCS Facilities Grant Process Committee.

"This is a big day for Central Carolina Community College," said Vonna Viglione, resources development coordinator for the NCCCS.

Johnson Tilghman, chairman of the Harnett Forward Together Committee, said that the committee and the county are talking to companies about locating in the Western Harnett Industrial Park. The companies are enthusiastic about having a college center within the park for worker training, calling it "a huge asset."

"We couldn't be more excited or pleased," Tilghman said. "The center is truly a catalyst for growth of the park and for the education of people in western Harnett."

Credit for receiving the grant can be shared by everyone at the college, according to HollyAnn Rogers, CCCC grants writer/coordinator.

"The college has received a Superior Performance rating from the NCCCS for the past two years," she said. "Extra points were awarded for that in the application evaluation process. Every person at the college can take credit for this grant and feel proud of it because all were involved in achieving the Superior Performance rating."

She said she also believes the college received the grant because it was not just an idea the college was proposing, but a project that had been planned and budgeted for, but which just needed additional funding to come to completion.

The NCCCS also announced Friday that CCCC has been awarded a $270,595 Allied Health grant for its new dental assisting/dental hygienist training facility in the Central Carolina Dental Center on Vance Street. The college recently received a $223,006 GoldenLEAF grant to add six additional patient service stations, bringing the number to 12.

Pending American Dental Association initial accreditation, the dental assisting program is scheduled to start in the spring and the dental hygienist program in the fall.