SILER CITY - Western Chatham County has taken an educational leap forward with the completion of Central Carolina Community College's new Siler City Center. It is the first facility built in the western part of the county specifically for the college's educational programs.
This long-awaited event was celebrated Nov. 15 with a ribbon cutting and open house at the facility, located in the Central Carolina Business Campus industrial park. Area residents; college, county and city leaders; and local state-level elected officials, gathered for the event.
"We have been looking forward to this day for a long time," CCCC President Bud Marchant told the gathering of almost 200. "We are extremely happy you could join us for the ribbon cutting for this spectacular building."
The college's programs for western Chatham have been housed in the old Henry B. Siler School, in Siler City, since 1984. Sally Kost, chair of the county's board of commissioners, said that building a new Siler City Center for the college in the industrial park was a strong, strategic move to make the park more attractive to business and stimulate economic growth in western Chatham County.
"This wonderful building is another example of the county's commitment to the college in Chatham," she said referring to the recent openings of the Chatham County Library and the Sustainable Technologies Building at the college's Pittsboro Campus.
Other speakers for the event were Siler City Mayor Charles Johnson, N.C. Sen. Bob Atwater, N.C. Speaker of the House Joe Hackney, CCCC Board of Trustees Chair Ed Garrison, and CCCC Chatham County Basic Skills Coordinator Sara Lambert.
Atwater noted that the county commissioners, understanding the need for the facility, committed more than $4 million for construction of the Center during the recession.
"It was bold of them," he said, "and the citizens of Chatham County will benefit. We are looking for jobs and this will attract them."
The two-story, 23,800 square-foot Siler City Center is located on a 41-acre wooded site in the Business Campus. It is one of only a handful of North Carolina community college centers in an industrial park. The location offers the advantage of workforce training for companies that decide to move into the industrial park.
The new facility enables the college to expand workforce training, basic skills, adult education, curriculum programs, and enrichment classes in western Chatham County in a major way. Sculpture classes will begin with the spring 2011 semester and university transfer and other programs will be added in the future.
The college has been offering adult education classes at various locations in Siler City since 1965. From 1977 to 1984, it used the former Paul Braxton School and then moved to the former Henry B. Siler School. Over the years, the need for adult education and workforce training outgrew that school. The facility also was found to need major renovations for continued use.
Instead of renovating, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved the construction of a new Center in the Business Campus. Ground was broken for it in November 2009 and construction was completed in October 2010.
The Center was designed by Taylor Hobbs of Hobbs Architects, Pittsboro, and built by Monteith Construction Corp., of Wilmington. Hobbs described the architectural design as "modern," created of geometric shapes in brick, aluminum and glass.
It is energy efficient, with sustainable features such as the solar oriented site design, minimal site and habitat disturbance, low-flow water systems, use of recycled materials, natural daylighting of interior spaces, and reflective roof materials. The building is expected to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Level - or higher - certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Center cost approximately $4.2 million to build, with another $1.4 million for equipment, design and engineering, and contingency. It houses classrooms, offices, a student center, computer and class labs, vocational/industrial training shops, a bookstore, and other services.
"This new facility is a realization of dreams, provides new opportunities and celebrates the future of Central Carolina Community College, Siler City and the local workforce," said Sara Lambert, the college's Chatham County Basic Skills coordinator, told the gathering. "Don't let the opportunities within this building pass you by. We are here to serve and grow with you."