Co-Lin plans new health sciences building

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 14, 2009

NATCHEZ — When a health sciences student at Co-Lin in Natchez campus needs to do his lab check-off, he has to step into what used to be a closet.

Respiratory therapy students are squeezed into a classroom next to the welding program.

Everything is just too small.

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“Basically, we are filled to capacity for the most part, but also our health program needs to be in a better area,” Copiah-Lincoln Community College Natchez Campus Vice-President Teresa Busby said.

And that’s about to change.

Co-Lin is preparing to build a new 22,000-square foot health sciences building, which will house the respiratory care program, the licensed practical nursing program, the biology laboratory, the computer laboratory, some general use classrooms and some extra space — just in case.

“That additional space is for future growth, with the potential of adding a new health care program at the Natchez campus,” Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles said.

The college anticipates the construction costs for the building will be between $3.5 and $4 million, though the project has not yet been put out to bid, Nettles said.

The funding for the project will be done through the issuance of bonds, and will be paid with the funds the college receives from the millages counties have passed to support it.

“If you went back and looked, you will see Adams County has always provided the college funds for the Natchez campus,” Nettles said.

In December 2007, the county supervisors voted to continue to support Co-Lin with the millage, which generates approximately $370,000 a year.

The college has been using those funds to pay for the academic building, but that note has been paid off and the college will put the funds that were going to pay that note toward paying for the new construction.

“This is not additional funds, but the continued support allows us to continue investing in Adams County for construction, something that is desperately needed,” Nettles said.

The college will likely have the ground breaking for the new facility in the fall, and with an estimated construction time of 14 months, Nettles said they expect to open the building in early 2011.

The new building will be at the intersection of Campus Drive and Co-Lin Circle on land the college purchased on 1999. It will be the first thing a visitor sees upon entering the campus.

When the college feels it is ready to fill the extra space that will come with the building, Busby said it would do a community survey of local health care providers.

“We will go to them and say, ‘What do we need? We have the LPN program, we have respiratory therapy — what are we missing and how can we fill that gap?’” Busby said.

In the meantime, the announcement about the new construction has served as a real morale booster for the Co-Lin community, Busby said.

“We are lucky to have the support of the community, and any time there is new construction, people on campus are excited,” she said. “It is just a great, great time for Co-Lin.”