“We are excited about it,” said Bill Dechant, director of campus development.
The center will focus on providing continued education for emergency service workers, such as firefighters, emergency medical responders and police. The center will include a classroom building as well as a live burn tower and an emergency training tower, which can be used to practice repelling and other skills.
“There is no place in the county for these guys to get this kind of training,” Dechant said. “If they are going to train in it, they have to go out of county.”
The community college will build the facility on property on Armory Drive in Clyde between the Haywood County Public Transit Hub and the National Guard Armory. The first phase, which Dechant said he hopes to start before the end of the year, will include grading, parking and construction of the two towers.
A complete picture of what the training facility will look like has not been decided yet, however.
“They have talked about what they want in that, but as far as having the final plan, they don’t really have that,” said Debbie Davis, spokeswoman for HCC. “Nothing has been out for bid.”
To help pay for the new facility, the community college will use leftover flood settlement money — about $600,000 — from satellite HCC classrooms in downtown Clyde that were destroyed when the Pigeon River flooded in 2004.
Dechant did not want to speculate on the total construction cost but said the $600,000 should cover most of the first phase of the project.
“Right now, the college is definitely committed to that $600,000,” Dechant said. “We really don’t know where the rest of this money will come from if we need more funds.”
HCC does have money coming in from a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters for capital projects on campus, if college leaders decide to tap into that revenue source.
A steering committee will meet this week to begin nailing down more specific details about the facility’s appearance and amenities.
“It is something that we are going to get the ball rolling on,” Dechant said.