Copiah Lincoln expands presence and programs in Simpson County

By PAT BROWN,

It was a busy day at Copiah Lincoln Community College’s Simpson County Center last Tuesday when a ground-breaking ceremony was held for new expansions at the college. 

The almost 24,000 square foot expansion comes because of increased student needs at the Simpson County facility on Highway 49 between Magee and Mendenhall. 

Dr. Dewayne Middleton, vice president of Copiah Lincoln, welcomed the crowd that on hand for the ground breaking celebration. 

The expansion will house seven general classrooms, a computer lab, a science lab, five faculty offices, a faculty work and break room, a health lab, a GED classroom, a welding lab and Automation and Control program workspace. 

The long term relationship between the county and Copiah Lincoln was reviewed by Donnie Caughman, director of the Simpson County Development Foundation.  Caughman said the first meetings in the early 1990’s were to discuss Copiah Lincoln having a physical presence in Simpson County.  Eventually that would lead to the school locating their first facility in Magee at the present day location of Valley Foods  on Main Avenue in Magee. 

Many options were discussed on new locations before the present location at Legion Lake was approved on 16th section property. 

The estimated cost of the latest expansion is $6 million dollars, according to Dr. Middleton.  He said the college currently serves the needs of 450 students on an annual basis.  The goal for the new expansion is to serve  between 600 and 700 students. 

Middleton said plans are for the new facilities to be operational by October of 2019.

He said that one of his biggest opportunities and challenges is identifying new programs and funding that can be made available in Simpson County.  He said his office is currently working on Challenge Grants that would offer additional student opportunities. 

The construction contractor for the project is Richard Womack. 

Dr. Jane Hulon, president of Copiah Lincoln College, as well as former President Ron Nettles were on hand for the event. 

Brian Kennedy, president of the Simpson County Board of Supervisors, welcomed the Copiah Lincoln dignitaries.  He told the group that he looked forward to a continued relationship between the county and Copiah Lincoln Community College.