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College closer to breaking ground
The president of Altamaha Technical College says the college is embarking on the next step toward building a campus in Glynn County.

"We've been released to start working with the architects IPG out of Valdosta," Lorette Hoover said Wednesday. "We're going to have the first official meeting to get plans organized on June 27."

The plan will be for the new facility and the 36-acre site near Golden Isles Career Academy in Brunswick.

The technical college has been using classroom space at Golden Isles Career Academy for years.

"Working with the architect is the first step. Once we get those plans drafted and approved, we'll have a community meeting to show the public and provide an opportunity for input and recommendations," Hoover said. "We've already asked for the bonds (that fund the project) to be sold as quickly as possible because we're ready to go."

Once the plans are complete, a contractor will be hired. It will take 10 to 12 months to complete the project.

"There is a lot of excitement in the community," Hoover said. "Many employers are excited specifically about the new programs we'll be offering, including physical therapy assistants and occupational therapy assistants (associate's degrees) at the request of the (Southeast Georgia) Health System," Hoover said.

"We're looking forward to starting a new program to support manufacturing and industrial programs, which will be engineering technology."

As the campus grows, so will enrollment, Hoover says. For the first time in six years, she says increased enrollment makes her confident the college can handle budget cuts without furloughing or reducing staff.

"One thing that Glynn County is starting to learn is that a technical college is really the same as a community college. We've got transferable courses and degrees, (and) our tuition is more affordable. It's a great option for your family members and more and more students are coming and enjoying the smaller class sizes," Hoover said.

Though Hoover is excited to see the groundbreaking, she won't be the president of the college when it finally happens. She announced Thursday that she will be leaving Altamaha Tech and taking the presidency at Columbus Technical College in Columbus in west Georgia.

Bob Jones, current president at Columbus Tech, is retiring. Hoover will take over for him on July 1.

"It's probably a place I would call home, as my dad retired there after he left the military. My mom still lives there, my brother is there with my nephews and my daughter is there with my two grandbabies," Hoover said.

Lonnie Roberts, vice president of institutional effectiveness at Altamha Tech, will become interim president upon Hoover's exit. Hoover is sure he will be a great leader and hopes he will continue the growth the college has seen during her tenure.

"My heart will remain here," she said. "The faculty and staff at Altamaha Technical College are passionate about the success of our students, our employers and the communities we serve.

"Altamaha Technical College is successful not because it is big or long established, but because there are people in it and around it who live it, sleep it, dream it and build future plans for it."

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.



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