Building needs require attention
The issues might have been known, but the price tag of $10 million was certainly surprising.
It was certainly a shock to us.
Contractor and former Isothermal Community College employee Chester Melton outlined numerous issues with permanent and temporary structures on the campus during a Board of Trustees conference Tuesday.
The report suggested roof replacement for a number of buildings along with the immediate need for replacing a wall at the Student Center because of breaking mortar leaving exposed wiring.
The latter issue would require a structural engineer to examine.
All of the issues are alarming.
Especially when you consider most of the buildings on the campus — especially the temporary ones — are 41 years old. Other buildings on campus were built in 1968, making them even older.
Melton said those were not handicapped accessible nor did he believe they met fire code. He further suggested those temporary buildings be removed entirely.
Now that the problems have been identified, the biggest question comes down to money.
Clearly, ICC doesn’t have $10 million just lying around to address all of the repair issues.
It comes down to the Rutherford County Commission to meet the facility needs of the campus.
And, clearly, they don’t have the money either.
ICC does receive $167,000 annually from sales taxes which is dedicated for capital expenditures. That leaves $9.8 million left to fix the issues.
We’re pretty certain neither ICC nor the county has that money floating around either.
But, the issue here is more than just re-tarring a roof or fixing a wall. It is about the safety of the students at ICC.
Additionally, it is about the viability of the college to attract students.
Parents are less likely to send their children to a school where walls are rotting away and roofs are leaking.
ICC President Walter Dalton told trustees the college is “developing a plan” to address the problems but the college can only do so much.
This is where the County Commission comes into the fold.
We don’t expect the county to open the checkbook and give ICC $10 million but the purse strings have to be lengthened more than they have in years’ past. Commissioners have touted ICC as a jewel for the county and a tool for economic development.
Commissioners and ICC have planned a May budget discussion to go over the needs of the college and we expect buildings to be the highest priority.
We expect commissioners to take these items into consideration when considering its budget allotment for the college.
After all, jewels should not be allowed to tarnish. They should be cared for and invested in to allow for growth.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Alex Moore, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.