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Friday’s unveiling of the conceptual design plans for the new Jefferson Community and Technical College campus in Carrollton began on a positive note.
For the second time, the project has made the governor’s budget, Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson told a crowd of more than 50 in a second floor classroom at JCTC.
Tomlinson, who has led the battle for the new campus, said it is needed by local industry for workforce development. He said there will be a lot of job opportunities with retirements expected in the next several years at local industry.
“It’s important that we give these opportunities to our residents,” he said.
With the planning process already underway, Tomlinson said the region is “ahead of the curve” with the project. But, he said, “there is a lot of work ahead.”
State funding for the project estimated at $16.3 million comes with a catch this time — the local community must raise 25 percent of the project’s cost, or about $4 million, under the plan announced last week by Gov. Steve Beshear
Tomlinson and JCTC President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Newberry warned those attending that the project was vetoed by the Gov. Ernie Fletcher in the year he placed it in the budget. Both said everyone needs to let their legislators know the need for the Carrollton campus to help it stay in the budget.
“I can’t think of a harder working and more deserving community,” Newberry said. Over the eight years since this was first proposed, he said the community has put forth a lot of effort to make it become a reality.
Newberry said the Carrollton campus has remained the number one capital project on JCTC’s list for several years. “There is no greater need in higher education in Kentucky,” he said.
With the 12,000 square foot facility that now houses the Carrollton campus in downtown, Newberry said the staff and faculty are underserved and under-resourced.
“We know there is going to be a high potential for growth” for the campus serving this region, he said.
Despite being one of the 16 projects that Beshear included in a proposed bond issue for community college projects, Newberry said it is a long way to April when the state budget is approved.
He encouraged everyone to work with legislators to let them know of this region’s need for JCTC.
EOP Architects of Lexington displayed renderings for their vision for the new campus and the first building on the 30-acre site, which is part of the former Camp Kysoc property, directly across from General Butler State Resort Park.
Landscape architect Ramona Frye said they want the campus to have a strong presence for those driving by on Hwy. 227. The buildings on the campus will be “tucked into the forest” on the site, but have good visibility from the road.
“The first impression is of the front door of that building,” Frye said. Parking will be in an area that runs parallel to Hwy. 227, providing about 220 spots for students.
The first building will be close to the entrance that lines up with the existing one to Butler Park, leaving room for future buildings in a semi-circle space in the middle of the site.
Architect Brent Bruner displayed the first drawing of the new 50,000 square foot building that is clad in a mixture of brick and metal. In developing the design, architects drew inspiration from nature, patterns on leaves from the trees in the forest on the land, the confluence of rivers that Carrollton is known for and the inspiration of gorges, which tie into forest and waterways.
“That’s how we started to get our juices flowing,” he said.
Facing the building’s entrance, the left side, featuring a traditional brick façade, will be two-stories and house offices and classrooms.
On the first floor, architects have a reception area, 12 offices, a conference room, business office and storage in the front section. In the back area are the library, adjunct offices, Jobs for America’s Graduates program, the GED classroom, adult education classroom and a testing center. The building’s second floor is made up of eight classrooms, two computer labs and a science lab.
To the right, the technical side of the college will be housed in what is a sloping one-story wing, Bruner said. This includes labs for electronics, hydraulics, pneumatics and electricity, a flexible use lab, applied process tech lab, a classroom, and a welding room. These will have high ceilings, and a mechanical mezzanine will be located near the middle of this wing to serve these rooms, he said.
Bruner said a tall commons area in the middle, with the feel of the gorge he mentioned, will tie the two areas together. A large glass wall at the back will showcase the forest area that is behind the college on the former Camp Kysoc property. In addition to providing an area for students to gather or study, this commons section also will have a vending area.
He said some may question why the first building is not further back on the campus. “We wanted the money to go into the first building,” he said. To locate further into the property would eat into the budget for building an access road.
Frye estimates that this project will involve only about eight acres of the site.
Architects opened the floor to questions, and the first was on traffic flow and using just one point for entry and exit.
Frye said this decision was made due to the costs associated with creating a second entrance/exit because of how the property slopes toward the lake and the drainage that runs along Hwy. 227.
“We will take more of a look at that when we have more information on the site,” she said, noting these are the conceptual designs.
Ruth Baxter asked if the designs factored in all of the training needs of local industry.
JCTC Carrollton campus director Susan Carlisle said officials from industry have been involved through the entire planning process. This led to decisions such as creating the flex lab that can be used for various types of training, she said.
Carlisle said they also reviewed the engineering, applied process and welding needs of industry and worked to make sure they are not duplicating anything that is now offered through the area technology center.
“This is a good sized building,” architect Richard Polk said. “Multi-purpose is what we’re trying to look at.” He pointed out that large garage doors at the back of the technical classroom will allow for equipment and other materials to easily flow in and out of the facilities.
Additionally, Polk said the EOP team will look more specifically at the types of equipment that will be used and the services, such as electricity or gas, needed to support them as they get into the true building design stage of the project.
Carroll County Community Development Corporation Executive Director Robert Yoder praised the designs.
He said he likes how the technical side of the college is not tucked away in the back or the corner of the building. “We’ve made that prominent,” he said, indicating the technical education importance to local industry and the local economy.
Carlisle said these factors were taken into consideration for the new campus because it allows them a chance “to brand ourselves.” For example, she said the Carrollton campus offers one of only two applied process technology programs in Kentucky.
Carroll County Schools Superintendent Lisa James said a lot of hard work has gone into this project; however it needs to continue to see the campus through to funding.
“We really need your help,” James said. Everyone in the region needs to “continue squeaking” to let legislators know the importance of the Carrollton campus.
Carlisle will be working with students on writing personal letters to legislators to encourage their support for the campus funding and encouraged everyone to also do so. She said these are so much more effective than form letters in showing the community’s support.
Carlisle thanks those present for working in the planning process. She encouraged them to continue to offer their input now that the final conceptual designs have been presented.