JCJC Breaks Ground on Wayne County Center

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2011-06-16 16:41:06

ELLISVILLE – The excitement about Jones County Junior College building a facility in Waynesboro has risen to another level. After five years of planning and seeking funding, a groundbreaking ceremony for JCJC’s new Wayne County Center launched the beginning of a new partnership with the county. 

“This is a vital economic development project for the future of this region,” said JCJC President Dr. Jesse Smith. “When my administration and I began building upon our partnerships in Wayne County, it was very clear to me we needed to establish a presence here. Many groups were instrumental in helping us get to where we are today. ”
Those groups include the Wayne County Board of Supervisors and Wayne County School Board. Together with the help of JCJC and the South Mississippi Planning and Development District, $1.5 million in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration was secured for the project. The grant requires the approximately 11,000 square foot facility to be constructed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications, which should help reduce the cost of maintaining the structure.
“A lot of times when you get government entities together they don’t mesh too well. This project however, was for the benefit of our community and they all did it,” said Jerry Hutto, president of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors. “We appreciate everyone’s efforts to move this project forward.”
Locating the JCJC facility across from the Wayne County Vocational Center was a strategic decision, said Smith. The idea was to be as close as possible to the county’s high school students.
 “The growing trend in our world today is to blend skills training from high school to community college together for a seamless transition from one training program to another. We are thankful the Wayne County School Board and leadership in the district’s schools were more than willing to help us as they deeded the land to the college,” said Smith.
The training opportunities for area residents include practical nursing and technical skills training. Adult basic education/GED services, small business development, along with credit and non-credit classes will also be offered in the Wayne County Center. Interim Superintendent Keith Clay believes the Center will be successful. 
“The job market requires a two year degree for most of today’s workforce,” said Clay. “We need online learning and we need to provide convenient opportunities for education. The options being offered (at this facility) will help Wayne County be a better place.”
In addition to the training and education potential for the area, 510 jobs are expected with this development. Mike Evans, a member of the JCJC Board of Trustees and president of Great Southern National Bank in Waynesboro is optimistic about the future of the Center and the Wayne County area.
“Today is a dream of mine coming to reality,” said Evans. “This Center is going to benefit many individuals for years to come. If you look at Jones and see all the progress they have made, all the talent of their administration, they will make it a success. Thank you also to the Board of Supervisors to have the vision to make this happen.”
The excitement amongst school employees and school board members was also overflowing at the ceremony. Long time counselor for Wayne County, Anna Hutto said, “There’s great enthusiasm for the project.”
District 3 School Board member, business entrepreneur and former JCJC student, Charles Chapman echoed Hutto’s sentiments.
“I believe in JCJC, and now we have a physical part of JCJC here in Wayne County. It’s a great day for all of us here.”
Projected plans for completing the Wayne County Center and offering classes will take an estimated two years. Looking to the future, Smith challenged the group to envision where the Center will be in 10, 20, and 50 years from now.
“It all starts with graduating people from your community,” said Smith. “We want to grow our graduates, strengthen our workforce, and move our communities forward.”
Jones County Junior College was established in 1927, however Jones County Agricultural High School opened in 1911. Jones will be celebrating its centennial this fall when the institution first opened its doors. Students come from eight counties in the college’s district: Clarke, Covington, Greene, Jasper, Jones, Perry, Smith, and Wayne. JCJC serves students from 60 Mississippi counties and 12 states. 
With various medical programs to technical programs like drafting and design to welding, degrees and certificates are awarded in 27 career and technical programs and over 100 university parallel programs. Fall enrollment is usually around 6,000 students with spring enrollment around 5,000. For more information about Jones County Junior College, call 601-477-4000 or visit the college's website at www.jcjc.edu or take a tour and discover how Jones can Inspire Greatness in you!


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