Technical college process creeps along
By Emily Heglund
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 10:18 AM EDT
We need a technical college in Camden County.
This was the message reiterated Friday by the county's economic development leaders, who provided an update on efforts to bring a brick-and-mortar Altamaha Technical College (ATC) campus to Camden.
"We continue to try and advance the knowledge of the need for this campus in our community," said David Keating, executive director of the Camden County Joint Development Authority (JDA).
With much of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base's workforce set to retire in the next few years, the stand-alone technical college campus is needed to train workers to move into those and other jobs, Keating added. If the campus does not get built in a timely manner, those open positions could go to workers from outside the area as opposed to local residents.
The Gross family donated a 30-acre site near Interstate 95 on Harrietts Bluff Road to construct a campus, but funding has failed to come through at the state level, despite the project's past standing as No. 1 on the Technical College System of Georgia's (TCSG) capital outlay list.
Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the funding in May 2011. In March, monies allotted to a new technical education building in Glynn County were diverted to Atlanta projects, leaving Camden leaders baffled as to why the funding was not awarded to the local site.
"This campus will be the only campus that fronts I-95 in Georgia," Keating said Friday, re-emphasizing the site's importance.
There has been some movement on the project since March. The land donation was accepted by the TCSG and state property commission, Keating said, and has been routed to the state attorney general for closing.
An access road has been constructed, and the JDA is preparing to buy pipe to lay at the site. The county, JDA and City of Kingsland have partnered to do much of the site prep work.
"We've got the funds in the bank and we're operating under the approved budget," Keating said. "The bottom line is the project continues to progress."
JDA board members and ATC officials are still waiting for the TSCG to produce its next capital outlay priority list, which some believe could see Glynn County take over the top spot.
"This is a hard pill to swallow," chairman John McDill said of the recent attention on the proposed technical building in Glynn.
Technical skills such as welding, electrical and construction will likely be taught at the new Altamaha Technical College campus in Camden. Last week, the state accepted a 30-acre property donation from the Gross family for construction of the campus, but progress on the build is slow due to a lack of state funding.