Stokes County is one step closer to having a community college facility after the official groundbreaking ceremony of the new Forsyth Tech facility in the Meadows community Monday morning.
State and local leaders gathered in the parking lot of the Stokes Early College High School to officially kick off the construction of the new facility.
“We are embarking on the beginning of a new era in Stokes County,” said Stokes County Board of Commissioners Chair Ronda Jones. “This has been decades in coming. It goes without saying how important education is for our economy. It is imperative that we get it and this is going to be a huge thing for us.”
Forsyth Tech President Dr. Gary Green said the college was honored to have a permanent structure in the county.
“Fourteen years ago when I got here we had classes scattered all over Stokes County,” he said. “The commissioners committed some space in the government center for us and we began with one classroom and a computer lab. We grew with our partnership with Stokes County Schools to develop the Early College and now we will have this permanent community college presence here. It has been one step at a time but I want to thank the commissioners for their continued support.”
Forsyth Tech Board of Directors Chair Ed Welch said the new facility would serve the county for many generations to come.
“A college of this magnitude will not only be here to train and educate, but to also create the best quality of life humanly possible today and tomorrow,” he said.
Forsyth Tech Stokes County Operations Director Ann Watts said the new facility would not have been possible without the support of many people and organizations in the county.
“It is just great that I can call someone in the county and say ‘This is Ann Watts’ and they say ‘Wwhat can we do for you,’” she said.
Watts noted that the new facility, when it opens for classes in the fall of 2016, will provide much needed space for expanded programming in the county.
“It will give us the expanded space we need for the college and Early College to work together toward educating the students,” said Watts. “We will have a brand new LPN lab for our nursing students that we are very excited about. We will have expanded options of CNA and EMT basic. We will have state of the art science labs which will really increase what we can do in the science area and we will have new and expanded computer labs so that we can increase the opportunities in business and computing.”
The new building will also include five general purpose classrooms, a conference room, faculty and staff office space, tutoring space, a food vending area, and open gathering and study space for students.
Two of the general purpose classrooms will have collapsible walls so that a larger space can be opened up as needed for larger gatherings.
“We also have a hope and a dream to one day bring more agriculture related things here,” said Watts. “We will be looking at how we can create other programs and courses to help the people of Stokes County.”
Preconstruciton meetings for the new facility took place on June 10, and the project officially started on June 11.
The new facility is being built by Blue Ridge Enterprises under a 15-month construction schedule, with the first classes in the new facility planned to start in the fall semester of 2016.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.