$3.4M sought for Young Memorial building
MORGAN CITY, La. The Louisiana Senate is expected to vote this week on a bill which includes $3.4 million for a major campus project at South Central Louisiana Technical College Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City for its marine safety program.
A 42,000-square-foot facility housing 16 classrooms is expected to be constructed with the funding. The facility will replace 14 temporary wood and modular buildings housing as many classrooms. Most of the temporary buildings are nearly 20 years old and some house expensive equipment and software.
The older buildings would either be demolished or auctioned as surplus by the state, according to Earl Meador, college director.
State Sen. Bret Allain and Rep. Sam Jones pushed getting the funding put into a spending bill in the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee last week.
“It is significant to get this amendment attached considering it wasn’t in the original bill,” said Jones, who credited Allain with using his influence to get the funding attached.
“We worked pretty hard to get this,” Allain stated. “We had to twist some arms to make them see the light.”
Both legislators are pleased to see the effects of local people and governments voicing their support of the bill in the past couple months to help get it placed.
One of the buildings is a full bridge simulator with $750,000 worth of equipment, computers and installed software which projects simulations onto a large screen with a multitude of scenarios. Instructor Carl Moore said that the computer and software were environmentally sensitive.
“This is a big investment to have in an old wooden building,” Meador explained.
Moore said that the college had 3,600 students last year, some of them high school students getting certificates that would help them become employed after graduating high school.
“We work closely with the technical college,” said Keith Thibodeaux, assistant superintendent of St. Mary Parish School Board. “Many of our kids will use these skills to go into the job market.”
Allain said this funding is “very significant to the region” and is “huge for companies and students” using the campus. He said that Gov. Bobby Jindal has promised to sign the bill if it passes in its current form.
The money for the project will be available in 2015 after a bond sale. A 10 percent local match is required. Finding those matching funds is not expected to be difficult.
“We will start fundraising immediately” once the bill is passed, said Meador. He expects to have solid support from area marine-related businesses which often send their employees to the college for certificates or refresher courses. “We are unique in that we have incredible community and industry support,” said Meador.
Moore claims that the college leads the nation in short-term training certificates with 7,000 presented last year. The project will allow the college to continue its 10 percent annual growth, he said.
The funding for the facility is part of a $7.6 million package that includes a pair of projects at the college’s campus in Reserve. Allain expects the bill to clear final passage in the Senate this week and get brought to the House for consideration by next week.