Construction at Co-Lin ongoing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NATCHEZ — Winter weather slowed construction of the newest addition to the Co-Lin Natchez campus, but work is moving forward now.

And faculty and students who will eventually use the new Copiah-Lincoln Community College Health Science Center couldn’t be happier.

President Ronnie Nettles said the contractor, Clark Construction of Mississippi, has completed approximately 20 percent of the $4.2 million contract on building.

Co-Lin Natchez Vice President Teresa Busby said she expects construction to be complete by January 2011 and to move in students and equipment by February 2011.

The new equipment and labs have students and instructors on campus excited, including students in biology lab, which will be moved to the Health and Science Center.

Biology major Gray Meeks of Vidalia said she would wait on the new building before enrolling in zoology, and added that it was amazing to get state of the art equipment in Natchez.

“I’m excited about the microscopes,” Meeks said. “I like the idea of the digital view finder.”

Co-Lin Biology Instructor Nan McGehee said it would be great to have room for students to move around in the lab, but a larger lab wasn’t all she was excited about.

“I’ll enjoy getting to know a group of students that I don’t normally associate with because they are in a different building,” McGehee said. “We are also getting state of the are equipment, which will broaden the scope of our instructing abilities.”

Walt Wilson, respiratory care instructor, said the respiratory care laboratory had originally been designed for a landscaping program.

“If I’m quiet, you can hear the truck driving classroom through the wall,” Wilson said. “They are operating out of a garage that used to store a tractor.

“The air supply comes from welding — it is not medical air. The air comes out black, it is not filtered at all.”

Wilson said in the new lab, he’d have the ability to create a more true-to-life experience for his students, and he hopes the expansion will enable him to take up to 20 students a semester. Respiratory care currently supports up to 15 students.

The respiratory program, along with the LPN program, will receive the lion’s share of the technology of a no interest $750,000 loan Co-Lin received with the help of Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association, Busby said.

“We don’t know how much we will spend just yet,” Busby said. “But we have been approved to purchase technology for up to $750,000.”

Richaye Curtis, a respiratory care student, said she is looking forward to seeing how much class improves in the spring semester of 2011.

“The new building is great — it will help us be better prepared for the workforce,” Curtis said. “We’ll have access to more real-life situations.”

The health center will also help other departments, such as electronics and truck driving.

“Electronics has gotten so large that they are bursting at the seams, so we will do some adjusting to give them more space,” Busby said. “(Truck driving) will be first on the list to get a classroom.”

The building will house individual teaching labs, classrooms, offices and storage areas for the licensed practical nursing, respiratory care therapy, health care assistant and CAN/EMT/CPR health programs.

The plans also show biology lab and prep room, a computer lab, two general-purpose classrooms, a conference meeting room, faculty lounge, workroom and three study rooms.