Senate bill benefits Young Memorial

MORGAN CITY, La. -- Funding for a $3.7 million project at the Young Memorial campus of South Central Technical College in Morgan City was approved in Baton Rouge last week. The House of Representatives voted to approve Senate Bill 204 late Thursday that will finance $251.6 million in projects across the state, including the Morgan City campus.

The bill requires a 12 percent local match, which means a little more than $400,000 must be raised locally for the Young Memorial campus.

When the bill was first submitted by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, there was no mention of the local campus. The legislative approval capped months of work by Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, and Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, fighting to get funding for the marine service center included in the bill.

“Young Memorial was not in the bill at all when it was first submitted,” Allain said. “Me and Sam (Jones) worked hard to make the authors of the bill and others see the wisdom of including this funding that will help train workers for good paying jobs that are there right now.”

Jones said that after elevating the attention of people here and in Baton Rouge, the funding was put into the Senate bill.

“We made them see that with the needs we have and the successes we have demonstrated with the existing programs, that we should be in the bill,” Jones said.

The money for the project will be available in 2015 after a bond sale. The funding for the local construction is part of a $7.6 million package that includes a pair of projects at the college’s campus in Reserve.

A 42,000-square-foot facility housing 16 classrooms is expected to be constructed at Young Memorial with the funding. The facility will replace 14 temporary wood and modular buildings that house as many classrooms. Many of the temporary buildings are nearly 20 years old and some house expensive equipment and software, according to Earl Meador, the college director.

The older buildings would either be demolished or auctioned as surplus by the state.

“This is a very special day for our community. Thanks go out to our local legislators for getting this done,” Meador said. “We will start fundraising immediately and raise the $400,000 over the next 24 months.”

The “Facilities with a Purpose Bill” looks to improve Louisiana’s community and technical college facilities, providing increased training capacity and opportunities for students, business and industry across the state.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “We supported a move to utilize this funding source in 2008 … These schools are a critical pipeline for workforce needs, and we are proud to fund them however we can.”

Besides talking with Adley about including the project at Young Memorial in the bill, Allain said that he had extensive discussions with Joe May, the president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System about the importance of the training programs in Morgan City.

“The approval of SB204 shows a commitment by the Legislature to continue to invest in, and improve, facilities for career and technical education programs to meet the growing demand for a skilled labor force,” May said. “This action will enable us to maintain the course — one of unprecedented enrollment growth, program development aligned with business and industry, and graduating highly skilled students who will produce tangible, economically beneficial results for our state.”

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Morgan City Daily Review
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