College pursues $7M expansion project
Pigeon Forge city officials have approved a $1 million contribution to Walters State Community College for planned expansions on its Sevierville Campus.
Pigeon Forge City Commissioners approved the contribution with little discussion at their regular bi-monthly meeting, Monday evening.
“That’ll benefit the kids of our county so much,” said Commissioner Howard Sexton.
Commissioner Kevin McClure seconded Sexton’s motion to approve the deal citing the training the college provides to area emergency first responders.
WSCC President Wade McCamey and President Emeritus Dr. Jack Campbell spoke with Pigeon Forge City Commissioners at a work session meeting last week asking if the city would commit $1 million of the $7 million they need before they approach the building commission, next month.
McCamey cited dramatic increases in enrollment on the Sevierville campus which has grown to just under 1,400 students as reason for the expansion.
Walters State hopes to erect two new buildings on its Sevierville campus: one to house the college’s culinary arts program and a second as a general classroom facility.
McCamey said, “The Sevierville Campus is growing faster than any of the other campuses.”
In similar arrangements, both Gatlinburg and Sevierville have already committed $1 million chunk of WSCC’s needs, with the county donating $1.5 million.
“A student can get a good education right here in Sevier County right up through a bachelor’s degree,” said Campbell.
The school’s aid programs like the Sevier County Partners in Progress Program help area residents who want to continue their education. Partners in Progress is a specialized scholarship available to students who’ve attended county schools and meet certain requirements.
According to Campbell, over 70 percent of students at the Sevierville Campus are Sevier County residents. He also pointed out that the college has trained many of the area’s police, paramedics and other first responders. A large portion of area registered nurses also received their training from Walters State.
In other business, commissioners approved a change to the city sign ordinance which ups the maximum allowable size for “motion picture or still screen” sign from 66 to 100 square-feet.
They also approved a bid for candy supplies for parks and recreation concession stands to JBA Vending for over $4,700.
They approved a request by the police department to donate used and obsolete equipment to the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.