Expansion mode

JCC Carrollton campus expansion
hinges on General Assembly action

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (May 2005) – Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson envisions a well-educated future for Carroll County residents. He would like to see the Jefferson Community College campus in Carrollton expand to meet the county’s growing industry requirements.

JCC Campus

Photo by Don Ward

Carrollton’s Jefferson Community College
campus on Main Street has outgrown
its space for holding classes.

Fifteen years ago, JCC moved into the downtown area onto the corner of Fourth and Main streets. At the time, fund raising efforts to purchase the current three-story facility included a gift of $800,000 from the Carrollton College Education Foundation. Classroom space and parking issues have arisen since then, and one plausible solution is to build a new campus at a different location.
Tomlinson said 20-25 acres is needed to adequately house the college’s growing demands. Nearly 600 students were enrolled at JCC this past fall, and 800 students were enrolled in adult-education courses.
Due to limited space, classrooms on the first floor have had to be subdivided, and college chemistry classes are offered off-site at the Carroll County High School. There is no extra space for a campus bookstore, nor do faculty members have their own offices.
Parking has also become an issue that needs to be addressed for this campus that sits so close to the Ohio River. Any time the river swells its banks, this cuts down on the availability of parking for students. Students must then park farther away in the downtown area. While merchants have been accommodating, it does take up spaces their customers could use, said Tomlinson.

Harold Tomlinson

Harold Tomlinson

The college started off small, but then really took off. “You get quality education at an affordable price,” said Tomlinson. A major advantage to a campus in Carrollton has been the availability of a quality education obtained close to home.
On Jan. 25, Carroll County Fiscal Court awarded JCC $10,000 to be used as seed money to expand the college’s outreach program. This project is just in the preliminary stage, said Tomlinson. It would have to be placed on the state’s six-year capital plan. It would then need the approval of the General Assembly. The groundwork has been laid, said Tomlinson, even though money for educational purposes is hard to come by.
The college is a “really big asset” to the community, he said. Expansion would occur in two phases: Phase I would involve land acquisition and construction and carry a price tag of about $10 million. Phase II would add equipment and furnishings and would add another $8 million to the total cost of the project.
Tomlinson is searching for property that can be purchased at a reduced cost or donated. One option is to acquire land from Camp KYSOC, which sits directly across from the entrance to Gen. Butler State Resort Park on Hwy. 227. Tomlinson has met with Camp KYSOC officials in Lexington and said they were receptive to hearing his ideas.
Susan Carlisle, Campus Director for the JCC Carrollton campus, agreed that this would be a favorable location for a new campus. Close access to I-71 and the idea of partnering with the camp to bring about good opportunities for both JCC students and Camp KYSOC make this an advantageous location, she said.
The Kentucky Easter Seals Society Inc. runs Camp KYSOC. It has been in Carrollton since the early 1960s. Traditional camp activities are held at Camp KYSOC for children and adults with physical, developmental and multiple disabilities. Camp KYSOC holds day camps and resident summer camp programs.

Rick Rand

Rick Rand

Kerry Gillihan is president and CEO of the Kentucky Easter Seals Society and Cardinal Hill Healthcare Rehabilitation Services, two organizations that function together to run the camp. Gillihan said he is willing “to help anyway we can.” This includes assigning some acreage over to the county to be used by the campus.
Gillihan sees this as a positive action – one that would “enhance education in Carrollton.” The acreage has good visibility, is flat and in general is what he labeled a good site for a campus. Gillihan said the Easter Seals Society would “do what it takes to make it a reality.”
State Rep. Rick Rand, whose district includes Carroll County, said, “The real advantage of this project is that of its status to the community through higher education. Education is the most important thing that we can do as a community to help our citizens achieve their goals.”
In addition to regular class offerings, the college provides GED and ACT testing, and pre-employment testing for North American Stainless and other local companies. Students do not have to leave the county to obtain a quality education for a high-tech job.
Rand said the campus provides “access to higher education that may not otherwise be available to many of our citizens.” High school students are allowed to enroll in accelerated courses that will prepare them as they explore their higher education opportunities.
Both Tomlinson and Carlisle said that District 26 State Sen. Ernie Harris is making this project a top priority for Carroll County. Harris said a college is “good for the folks, not just in Carrollton, but in the three to four surrounding counties.”
Harris said that the main objective of this expansion project is to get it approved by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Established in 1997, the KCTCS provides programs relevant to the workplace. Its goal is to improve the quality of life for Kentuckians by expanding opportunities provided by the state’s two-year public colleges.
The KCTCS focuses on continuing education, tailored to meet local needs. The KCTCS has the final word on all additions and improvements made to community colleges within the state. An overnight fix will not be found; there certainly is a “long road to go,” said Harris.
If JCC were to relocate to the Camp KYSOC property, the college “could reach more people and help the existing industry,” said Harris. More businesses will choose to locate along the I-71 corridor in the future, he said. Presently, JCC is the only community college between Louisville and Cincinnati.
There has already been a tremendous economic growth in Carroll and Gallatin counties over the last 20 years. In terms of this, Harris labeled the counties “a success story.” With the good working relationship established between elected officials, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and organizations, such as the Rotary Club, the resources are already there. But this is not a plan for Carroll County without KCTCS approval, said Harris.

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