JCJC opens the doors at new Wayne County Learning Center

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2013-11-19 13:08:21

ELLISVILLE – After seven years, Jones County Junior College’s new Learning Center in Waynesboro is officially open to educate the region. The ribbon was cut and the doors were open to the public, celebrating the partnerships between the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, the Wayne County School Board, together with the help of JCJC and the $1.054 million in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration which ensured the project’s success.
“We are so excited to be here because this is a perfect example of community building,” said JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith. “We want to say a special thank you to the Wayne County Board of Supervisors for all that they did in bringing Wayne County together and giving JCJC the opportunity to be a part of something so special.” 
He explained, Wayne County Board of Supervisors president, Jerry Hutto made it very clear in 2006 when they first met that he wanted a new vision for the county and JCJC.
“We had this project rolling until the Gulf Oil Spill stopped all the grant money and we were at a standstill,” said Hutto. “It warms my heart to think we may be helping thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people in the future with this facility.”
The newest of JCJC’s Learning Center’s sits on the former Waynesboro Horse Arena, next to the Vocational Technical Center on Azalea Street, in the middle of town.  Waynesboro Mayor Richard Johnson shared, the city may not have been heavily involved on the front-end of planning for the JCJC Center but it will be a partner going forward.
“We can’t thank you enough JCJC,” said Johnson. “When I ran for mayor my vision and mission focused on youth and education. I had no idea what this facility was….but we want to see the community improve and education is where it all starts at. I’m proud this facility is in the city.”
The 12,000 square foot facility was constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design specifications and is L.E.E.D. certified. The Wayne County Center has two computer labs, four classrooms, a health care lab, a welding lab and a large industrial lab. JCJC Board of Trustees member and President of the Great Southern National Bank in Waynesboro, Mike Evans said he understands the important role the Center will have in this region.
“Having attended Jones over 40 years ago was of great importance to me because it helped instill in me the importance of being a productive member of the community. This facility will show the importance to thousands of people in the future who are looking for job training, a vocation, or as a stepping point to a four-year university. You will see how important it is in days to come. Thank you, Dr. Smith for your leadership and staff members who have worked tirelessly on this project. Without them this would not be possible.”
Some classes were offered this fall at the Waynesboro Center, but it will be fully operational for the spring 2014 semester. College credit classes available in January include: Intermediate English, College Algebra, Western Civilizations and Orientation. Courses are available for both dual enrolled, traditional and non-traditional students. Wayne County Learning Center Director, Jason Dedwylder said college-graduate classes will also be available from Mississippi State University-Meridian’s new partnership with JCJC.  
“We’re going to begin with offering one graduate class from MSU-Meridian, EDF 8363 Functions and Methods of Research, on Monday nights from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. Interested students will need to register through MSU-Meridian for the graduate classes only. We will continue offering these types of classes, and whatever the region decides is needed,” said Dedwylder.
Former district 3 School Board member, business entrepreneur, justice court judge and JCJC alumnus, Charles Chapman was at the ground breaking in 2011 and felt it was important to be at the grand opening. Chapman said he believes this Center is a needed blessing to the County.
“I feel the impact from the vision for this facility of JCJC’s will affect the county’s workforce, health care and economy. It’s a great opportunity for hard working people who need opportunities.”
The educational demands of this area will be available and met, here at the Wayne County Center, for those who seek them, said Dr. Smith. JCJC is making education more accessible to more people which is bound to impact the economy in this region.
“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.”
The Wayne County Learning Center is the third Center the two-year college has established in its eight-county district. The first Center opened in Bay Springs (Jasper County) in January, 2008 with a new site under construction. The Greene County Center opened in January 2012. Clarke County just broke ground on its Center, making it the fourth JCJC Center.  For more information about the Wayne County Center, call 601-735-2228.


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