LUMBERTON — Upgrading Robeson Community College’s Emergency Services Center is one of the two major projects college President Pamela Hilbert hopes the Robeson County commissioners will support financially during the next couple of years.
“The center is old,” Hilbert told the commissioners Monday during a dinner meeting that included RCC trustees, college officials and county commissioners. “We need to rebuild the training tower because it’s not safe now. We also could add more classes for firefighters if we had more classrooms. … We also need classrooms at the center with computer access.”
The Emergency Services Center, located on N.C. 72 just east of Lumberton, provides firefighting and rescue training. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week the annual SouthEast Fire Rescue College will be held at the center, an event that Hilbert said has received more than 600 registrations from fire and rescue personnel from Southeastern North Carolina.
‘These individuals spend money here,” Hilbert said. “They stay in our hotels. They eat in our restaurants.”
Commissioner Tom Taylor, the chief of the Allenton Volunteer Fire Department, said that the center needs more modern equipment to remain a viable training site.
“Technology for firefighting has changed over the years,” he said. “We need to update our equipment or we will be losing out as a training facility to other facilities that are more up to date.”
Hilbert also asked the commissioners to provide money to update the college’s heating and air conditioning systems.
“Air is the one major complaint I hear,” she said.
RCC officials used the meeting with commissioners, held in the culinary arts dining room on the Lumberton campus, to update the commissioners on college programs and financial needs. The dinner was served by students in the college’s culinary arts program.
Among items discussed:
— Health Sciences programs: Mark Kinlaw, the vice president of Instruction and Support Services, said that students are doing well in the college’s nursing, LPN, radiography, respiratory therapy and surgical technology programs. He said a new pre-health science program will soon be launched for students who are not immediately accepted into one of the college’s five health science programs. Through this new program, he said, students will be able to earn certification in a health area that will enable them to be employed after graduation. If they choose, they can then reapply to one of the health sciences programs.
— Welding program and Barber College: Vice President Channing Jones said that a new welding program will be available in the fall. The program will initially accept 15 students.
Jones also said that the new Barber College, located at the college’s facility at COMtech, is “one of the best barbering facilities in the state.” He said that RCC is providing the program for about a third of the cost of what private businesses charge.
—Roofing projects: Vice President Al McRae told the commissioners that a new roof on building 12, located on the Lumberton campus, should be finished by next week. He said that only two buildings on the campus are now without metal roofs.
— Rebekah Lowry, executive director of the RCC Foundation, said that 82 scholarships, totaling a little more than $52,000, have been provided to students during the past year.
“If it wasn’t for these scholarships, a lot of students wouldn’t be able to attend college,” she said.