Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
For more than a year, Southwestern Community College and Macon County have been mulling over whether to rebuild the community college’s burn building training center currently located in the Industrial Park. An inspection of the building found the structure’s days were numbered and engineers recommended building a new structure as soon as possible.
While the process to construct a new training facility is a lengthy one, it does continue moving forward. During the November meeting of the board of commissioners, Macon County Manager Derek Roland informed commissioners that both SCC and the county received appraisals for the property adjacent to SCC’s Macon Campus where the new training facility is being proposed.
“We know this project is going to take some time, but it’s an important project to the county and to SCC,” Roland said. “A new burn building is a need and we are going through the process carefully to ensure the new facility is constructed through the proper channels.”
The county approved the use of a six-acre tract next to the Macon Campus in August, which would move the burn building from the Industrial Park to the west side of SCC’s Grove Building on Siler Road. Roland suggested the value of the land being used as a portion of the county’s required 25 percent match for grant funds SCC plans to use to build the new burn building. The ownership of the property will be transferred to SCC and the appraisal amount will go toward the county’s 25 percent match, will be around $350,000.
Roland informed commissioners that SCC’s appraisal was completed this month.
“We had SCC do an appraisal and then we had an appraisal completed and the good news is that both appraisals came back fairly close in terms of property value,” Roland said. “The SCC appraisal was $386,000 and the county appraisal was $375,000.”
The North Carolina Local Government Commission required the two appraisals and now the next step in the process is to submit the appraisals to the state for review. If approved, the commission will give the county the go-ahead to use the property as the county’s grant match requirement.
SCC has $1.5 million in state funds through the Connect NC Bond approved by voters in N.C. to put into a new burn building on the Macon Campus. The burn building replacement is on SCC’s priority list to receive funding from the Connect NC Bond referendum that was passed in 2016. Revenue from the bond can cover 100 percent of renovation projects, but counties are required to pay a portion of new construction projects.
The current Fire and Rescue Training Facility is located adjacent to the Public Safety Training Complex in the Industrial Park west of Franklin. The current building is a 4,100 square foot, three-story live burn building designated for a variety of training exercises. Both fire and smoke exercises can be conducted in and on the structure and rescue operations can be simulated throughout the building.
The current burn building is pre-cast concrete and masonry brick structure supported by a slab of grade concrete foundation. The proposed building will likely be similar. The current building was constructed around 1990 and is located in a flood zone and the area around the structure floods several times a year. Both SCC and Macon County decided if a new building would be needed, it made sense to be relocated to the Macon Campus.