Monday, December 13, 2010
 Ribbon Cutting at the Easley Campus

Dr. Ronnie Booth, president of Tri-County Technical College, third from left, joined legislators, College officials and community leaders as they gathered December 10 to cut the ribbon for the new Tri-County Technical College Easley Campus.  Pictured from left are The Reverend Julie C. Schaff, chaplain, Foothills Presbyterian Retirement Community in Easley; Helen Rosemond-Saunders, chair of the College's Commission; Pickens County Council Chair Neil Smith; Rep. Phil Owens; Sen. Larry Martin; and Bonnie Ammons, assistant director, S.C. Department of Commerce.

New Easley Campus Brings College Closer to Pickens County Residents


(By Lisa Garrett)

EASLEY --- Thirty-five years ago Pickens County Council Chair Neil Smith began his career by teaching college courses in an evening program that Tri-County Technical College operated at Easley Junior High School.

Smith recalled the dire economic circumstances of the late 1970s - high unemployment, high interest rates and fuel shortage - vey similar to today's world. Addressing the crowd at a dedication ceremony for the College's new Easley Campus, Smith compared those days to 2010. "Back then, I saw in people's eyes the hope and anticipation they get from a fresh start at education. I'll never forget what individuals can do when they get a second chance. This new facility in Easley gives the people of Pickens County another chance."

Smith was among those who joined Tri-County President Ronnie Booth, the faculty and staff, community members and State and local leaders in dedicating the Easley Campus facility located on Powdersville Road. Following the ceremony, an open house was held for guests to tour the Academic Building, which houses classrooms, offices, a multi-purpose room, student lounge and science labs, as well as the QuickJobs Development Center, a 4,600-square-foot building used for employee and workforce training.

The Easley Campus gives the College a presence in each of the three counties. The campus will better serve the citizens of Pickens County by offering credit and continuing education courses to residents.

In May 2009 legislators, county council members, and local business leaders joined College officials in breaking ground on a 37.51-acre piece of property on Powdersville Road that is the site of the College's third community campus. Construction began that summer on the first two buildings -- a QuickJobs Development Center and the Academic Building.

The QuickJobs Development Center, which opened September 20 with a class for United Tool and Mold, is designed to assist in workforce training and skills development for the College and for Pickens County. The QuickJobs Training Center is funded through a $986,364 grant from the State Department of Commerce to Pickens County. Instructors from the CCE Division teach training courses specifically based on locally identified needs and shortages.

The Academic Building is a 40,000-square-foot facility funded through State capital reserves of nearly $6 million.

"We are making college more accessible and available to the citizens of our service area," said Helen Rosemond-Saunders, chair of the College's Commission. "The time has come to be here where you live and work."

"It's all about bringing what we do closer to the people we serve," said Dr. Booth. "Dedicating this campus today is a big deal."

He expressed gratitude to those who helped to make the process a smooth one, including Dr. Mendel Stewart, former chair of the College's Commission, former Commissioner Ben Childress, who chaired the Building Committee, Rep. Dan Cooper, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and Neil Smith and County Council "who jumped through hoops to make this happen. It has been a pleasure to work with Neil and his entire council. Many thanks for their understanding of what this means to the community."

"The name of Tri-County takes on a new meaning today," said Rep. Phil Owens, adding that local citizens are excited about the campus's accessibility and convenience. "The key factor in this project's success is community support," he said. "This is a splendid addition to the Easley community."

Senator Larry Martin, also a student at Tri-County in 1970's, said. "When thinking about the opportunities and challenges we face today, this facility helps us to rise to the occasion. We are looking for brighter and better days ahead. We only dedicate this campus one time, but this facility is the gift that keeps on giving to our community. It will help us in a great way in bringing greater growth and opportunity for the people of our area. We all have a role in supporting Tri-County and our area."

"Having this grand opening today at the Christmas season was a very appropriate time to celebrate," said Bonnie Ammons, assistant director of Federal grant programs for the S.C. Department of Commerce. "Congratulations to you on a job well done. Everyone involved is to be highly commended. This project has shown vision and commitment to Pickens County. We (the Department of Commerce) played a small role in this project. You had the vision and commitment to get it done. Today's economy is different -- it's more global. It's scary and it's challenging. The QuickJobs Center is our investment in your becoming the most capable, qualified workforce in the world. That's what this represents. Our investment in connecting business and industry, along with creating partnerships, is what the Department of Commerce is all about. "

The spring 2011 semester begins January 10. Course offerings include University Transfer, Industrial Electronics, Health Sciences, Criminal Justice, and Medical Office Specialist, in addition to the Early Childhood Development and Entrepreneurship /Small Business certificate programs. In addition, Business Foundations and University Studies Transfer certificates will be available in fall 2011. The Licensed Practical Nursing program will move from the Pendleton Campus to the Easley Campus in fall 2011.

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Rebecca Eidson
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Lisa Garrett
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