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OTC “breaks a block”

By Laura Crozier

Hailed as a “driving force in the economic engine” that will help propel Alma and Bacon County in the future — Okefenokee Technical College is preparing to begin work on their new Alma campus.
The college held a special “block breaking” ceremony last Thursday morning to symbolically  kick off the renovation of the old Satilla REMC building for their use in training the workers of tomorrow.Blockbreaking
“We are so very proud of what this Alma campus will contribute to workforce development and the quality of life in Alma, Bacon County and the region,” said Dr. Gail Thaxton, president of OTC. “This new building...will allow the expansion of education and training programs. Our students will benefit from the enhanced learning opportunities.”
The Satilla/OTC project began in 2001, when community leaders began thinking about ways to use the REMC building at U.S. 1 and Highway 32 when the electric co-op moved to new facilities.
According to Dr. Thaxton, the group went through meetings with the governor, resolutions, a SPLOST referendum, State Property Commission (STC) review, an environmental assessment, approvals of the Department of Technical and Adult Education board, approval of the STC and the State Attorney General before finally closing on the property.
Satilla REMC agreed to sell the property to the City of Alma and Bacon County for $1.7 million, and Governor Perdue promised to kick in $2.1 million to “design, construct and equip” the Alma OTC campus if the two governments would purchase the building and give it to the state.
Bacon County voters got behind the project in November 2005 when they overwhelming approved a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to buy the property.
Many of those involved in getting the OTC project off the ground, including State Representative Tommy Smith, Satilla CEO Robert Rentfrow, Bacon County Commission Chairman Eugene Dyal, and former OTC Board member Gene Davis spoke at the ceremony.
“When something is worth batting for, the city and county go to the plate together,” Chairman Dyal said. “Anybody that says we can’t ever work together is just wrong, and this project proves it.”Thaxton Breaks Block
Alma Mayor Corman Jordan agreed. “Without a doubt, we knew this was the right thing to do and a good investment in ourselves,” he said.
Satilla CEO Rentfrow noted the utility provider was “formed in the spirit of cooperation — we’re a cooperative — so cooperating on this project came naturally to us.”
Dominic LaRiccia, on behalf of Senator Greg Goggans, expressed Goggans’ continued commitment to the project and the citizens of Alma.
The architect for the project, Rob Evans, says it is in the hands of the State Fire Marshal right now and will go to bid as soon as he gives the go ahead. The new campus is expected to begin receiving its first students in January 2009.Guests enjoyed refreshments catered by Sandra Orvin. The ceremony was sponsored by IPG Incorporated, the architectural firm for the project.

Photo 1: L to R
Robert Rentfrow, Satilla REMC President/COE; Fred Harrison, Sr., Satilla REMC Board Chair; Larry Paulk, OTC Foundation Chair; Gene Davis, Former OTC Board Chair; Dr. Gail Thaxton, OTC President; Rep. Mark Hatfield; Rep. Tommy Smith; Eugene Dyal, County Commission Chair; Mayor Corman Jordan; Tom Davis, OTC Board Member; and Rob Evans of IPG Incorporated (Not pictured – Dominic LaRiccia of Senator Greg Goggans office)


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