By Mark Carpenter
Adams County Commissioners Stephen Caraway, Brian Baldridge, and Paul Worley visited Columbus last Wednesday to lobby for projects they feel are important to the future of Adams County. Heading their list is the possibility of a new Southern State Community College campus in Adams County.
The Commissioners lobbied hard for support of new campus funding in a meeting on Feb. 26 with State Senator Joe Uecker and State Representative Terry Johnson.
“I very much appreciate the positive words for the project from Senator Uecker and Representative Johnson. They both understand how important this funding is to creating a more prosperous future for Adams County residents,” said Caraway.
“Dr. Boys and the SSCC team have put together an impressive funding proposal, and I have no doubt that our legislative delegation understands the positive impact this would have on Adams County and we will continue to be a strong advocate”.
Commissioner Baldridge was also optimistice after the meetings. “”The SSCC project is very important for the future of our county which has been very evident with the strong local support..” said Baldridge. “After our trip to the Capital I was encouraged by the feedback from our state legislators on the possibilities of this capital project receiving funding.”
Commissioner Worley added, ““Having a college in Adams County is extremely critical for providing the education and job skills our people need in order to compete in a global economy.”
The need to improve educational opportunities across Adams County and prepare the county’s citizens for sustainable employment requires Southern State Community College to expand their programming to enhance accessibility across the region. Adams County is the single county in the service region of SSCC that is not served by a physical location yet, in reality, the one area in dire need. As such, the purpose for constructing a new facility is to impact the following:
1) Strengthen the workforce to be better prepared for local and surrounding employment
2) Raise the educational attainment level of the County’s citizens
3) Improve the region’s competitive advantage in a global economy
The new state of the art facility would offer an array of services to local residents focusing on career training, specifically engineering related majors and certificate programs. Local employers have suggested that there is significant need for short-term training coupled with opportunities for highly-skilled workers. To satisfy this demand, the College proposes the following non-credit programming to compliment the career and general education programming: Entrepreneurship, General Employability, Home Inspection, Lineman Training, Serv-Safe, Truck Driving Academy and more.
In addition to career and short-term training, general education programming is an essential part of Southern State’s academic offerings beginning with adult literacy through baccalaureate preparation. Southern State’s experience with adult literacy and GED programming indicates that adult general education is vital to the region and has been particularly successful among students referred through the judicial system—graduating nearly 24 students in the past year and sending two on to college-level classes.
Further, past successes in collaborating with the Adams County Ohio Valley Schools and Manchester Local Schools suggest that a strong post-secondary enrollment option and dual credit enrollment option will remain widely popular as will interest in articulation agreements leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees.
Dr. Kevin Boys, president of SSCC, also is a strong proponent of the campus in Adams County.
““The construction of an Adams County campus is growing closer to a reality and I couldn’t be more pleased with the support and advocacy of the Adams County community, elected officials, and other county leaders, said Boys. “There has been a tremendous amount of work done in terms of articulating the need, identifying programming, and building a case for financial support. Together, we are getting very close. Our proposal has been well received by state officials with whom we have shared this compelling need.”
” The College and its Trustees, along with the advocacy of Adams County leaders have made a strong case for funding. Securing this funding continues to be our highest priority. We believe we are well positioned for significant financial support through an upcoming Capital Bill and the newly recommended small college fund. Further, we are actively pursuing promising leads to sell our existing South Campus and plan to invest all proceeds into the Adams County project. While these resources take us closer to the funds needed to build and equip this new campus, we continue to seek additional funding from any and all sources. We appreciate the Commissioner’s recent trip to Columbus to assist us in this endeavor.”
“The Southern State Community College Board of Trustees has asked the administration to adopt a strategic goal to advance campus construction in Adams County this year,” Boys continued. “Obviously this is an exciting goal and we know it will be an exciting year. The administration and the Board are committed to fulfilling our mission in this area and we poised to take the next steps forward including land acquisition and architectural planning.”