Glynn gets tech campus
Glynn gets tech campus
Date March 29, 2013
Section(s) Local News
Byline By GORDON JACKSONThe Brunswick News
Funding for a $16 million Altamaha Technical College campus in Kingsland was eliminated from the proposed state budget approved by a House-Senate conference committee of the state Legislature Thursday.
But funding for a campus for the regional technical college in Glynn County made the cut in the reconciled budget that is expected to be signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
That doesn't mean Camden County won't see additional funding. The state will give it $1 million to fund more technical programs offered by Altamaha Technical College at the College of Coastal Georgia campus in Kingsland.
Lorette Hoover, president of Altamaha Tech, said construction of a new campus in Glynn County will begin after plans have been finalized. She said the new campus, to be built on donated land adjacent to the Golden Isles Career Academy, will be completed within 18 months.
Altamaha Tech will also have a continued presence at the career academy, where it's currently based, she said. "We have programs that will stay at the career academy, and we may be adding new programs," Hoover said.
Hoover said she was not surprised about the funding for the Kingsland campus, adding that a new campus would have made it possible to add more technical classes to better accommodate the need for civilian workers at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. She believes Camden County will eventually receive funding for a free-standing campus.
"Camden is not off the list," she said. "It's a priority to have a new campus in Kingsland."
State Sen. William Ligon, R-St. Simons Island, said the change that adds financial support for technical college courses in Camden County was a surprise.
"This addresses an immediate need," Ligon said. "This is a good step forward."
State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said funding for the Kingsland technical school was eliminated because of concerns about the simultaneous construction of two campuses in adjacent Camden and Glynn counties.
"It's a conservative cost-cutting measure," Spencer said. "It may be a bittersweet pill to swallow."
Sheila McNeill, chairwoman of the Camden Partnership, a support organization for the Navy base, said the decision to, at the very least, delay funding for a technical college campus in Kingsland is disappointing.
She said Camden County has already made a significant financial investment to prepare the site for construction of a campus that has been discussed by state officials for the past several years.
"The county has invested a lot to make sure this is shovel-ready," she said.
Camden County Administrator Steve Howard said he didn't have a readily available estimate of the investment in infrastructure at the campus site made by the county, the city of Kingsland and the Camden County Joint Development Authority, but it's somewhere in the area of $500,000.
Howard said his goal is to continue encouraging state officials to approve funding for a new campus in Kingsland.
The state's $17.4 billion general fund budget is for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.