A ground-breaking ceremony for Southwestern Community College’s new $7.9 million academic/ administrative/ bookstore building on the Jackson Campus will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, May 6.
Due to the mud and access issues at the property site, folks are asked to gather in the Balsam Center Lobby for the ceremony.
The 38,210-square-foot building will be named for SCC’s long-time Chairman of the Board Conrad Burrell. An SCC trustee since 1996, Burrell is currently serving his 11th term as chairman of the board.
Burrell, whose close ties to SCC began years ago when he took carpentry and electrical classes, called it “an honor” to have this new building named for him. He remembers the night he learned of that honor.
“I was in a board of trustees meeting and they asked me to leave; I thought they were going to fire me. When I came back in to the meeting and they told me they were naming the building after me, I was completely surprised,” said Burrell, who has known all of the SCC presidents.
Raised in East LaPorte when it was a self-contained community built around Blackwood Lumber Company, Burrell understands the meaning and importance of community. Most in the community remembers him as Jackson County’s register of deeds, an elected position he held for 24 years until his retirement in 1998. He has served on the WestCare Hospital board and on the board of Mountain Projects. He is the first person in 50 years from Jackson County to serve on the NC Department of Transportation board and he has served the longest of any Western North Carolina representative. In 2008, he was honored with the Thad Eure Distinguished Service Award for his loyalty and support of the N.C. Democratic Party.
“Southwestern plays a big role in our community,” said Burrell, “If you ever need a law enforcement officer or fire protection, you can feel confident knowing Southwestern has trained these fine men and women. When you need emergency medical services, 85 percent of the people who will respond to your needs were trained through Southwestern. Southwestern impacts lives in so many ways. Now, with our early colleges, we’ve expanded to offer high school options.”
The Jackson Campus sports a new Early College High School built last year by Jackson County. The Burrell Building is the first state-funded construction to take place on the Jackson Campus since 1996. It is the last project funded from N.C. Higher Education 2000 bond monies.
“We asked for our project to be last,” said Burrell, “because we had to purchase the adjacent six acres from the Forest Service. In turn, we purchased nine acres in the Savannah Community for them to relocate. It has direct access to U.S. 441 and it was a good trade for both of us because Southwestern really needed the expansion.” The transaction, in which Burrell played a key role, took several years to complete.
With construction by James Vannoy and Sons Construction of Jefferson, the Burrell Building will serve as an administrative and academic building with 10 administrative offices, 11 classrooms and 10 faculty offices. It will also include the bookstore and a large conference facility. The completion date is set for March 14, 2012.
Burrell said the community will appreciate the state-of-theart “green” features of the building, “especially those you can’t see like the geothermal heat pump system. Heat will be harvested from the ground using heat pumps that extract heat from the earth. There will be 48 wells, each 450 feet deep, to meet the 105 ton cooling load of the building.”
Green features that folks will be able to see are energy efficient windows and lighting.
“All of this is going to save on our heating and cooling expenses,” he said.
“One of the benefits of ours being the last of this state bond project is that construction costs have gone down and we’ve actually come in $1.5 million under budget,” Burrell added.