(Courtesy of The Columbia County News Times written by News Editor, Donnie Fetter)
After a wait of 11 years, a Columbia County campus of Augusta Technical College is set to open this summer.
The 25,000-square-foot school across from John Deere Commercial Products on Horizon South Parkway near Grovetown is complete.
Augusta Tech President Terry Elam said he is expecting to receive delivery of furniture and equipment for the school soon to have it ready to start classes on Aug. 22.
It's been a long-term project," Elam said about the numerous delays that have plagued construction of the campus. "We've been through several budget crises, but the brick and mortar is done and it's time to get moving.".
The state Legislature initially allocated $4.6 million in funding to build the school in 2000. It wasn't until five years later, though, that then - Gov. Sonny Perdue released that money for use.
The project hit another bump a year later when the state Senate cut $135,000 earmarked for site preparation at the 34-acre campus. The money later was added back into the budget.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held in September 2007, but the project was delayed when wetlands at the site halted construction of an access road.
An entrance road finally was built about two years later, and construction started on the school soon after.
Overall, the school cost $6.8 million, which includes construction, a $1 million land donation from the Columbia County Development Authority and another $1.2 million in state funding for equipment and furniture.
Augusta Tech already has campuses in Augusta and Thomson. In the future, Elam said, growth into new areas likely will be limited to opening satellite campuses at already existing structures.
The Grovetown campus of Augusta Tech will offer core classes, business classes and a welding program.
"We'll mix in a few other majors as the public demands them," Elam said.
A schedule of courses should be ready in July, when the school starts enrolling for the fall.
"It's open enrollment, so students can enroll in multiple campuses," Elam said. "If they see a class that they want and it's more convenient to go (to Grovetown), then they can take it.".