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The contractor for Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College's new $12 million nursing and health sciences building said construction could be completed by February.

Construction on Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College’s new $12 million nursing and health sciences building could be completed by February, area commissioners were told at Tuesday’s meeting.

Vice President of Financial Affairs Kim Huff said that $5 million of the funds for the building have been spent so far.

“I feel pretty comfortable with where we are,” Huff said.

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Although the contractor is saying the project will be completed in February, “we think that’s optimistic,” Huff said. College officials believe the building may not be ready until March or April.

He said that the college will likely go ahead and order furniture for the new building before state contract prices go up. Medical equipment still remains to be purchased, he said.

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In his financial report to commissioners, Huff said that revenues for the end of the year were about $18.25 million and expenses were about $18 million.

He reported that the college has collected more summer tuition than budgeted. Also, the continuing education program collected about $50,000 for the year, which is “a tremendous turnaround,” he said.

Students borrowed less money this year -- $2.5 million this year, compared to $3.5 last year. Huff takes this as a sign that more students are finding better alternatives to borrowing as much money for college.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting:

• S.C. Technical College System Vice President of Communications Kelly Steinhilper told commissioners about an initiative called “Tour de Tech.”

System President Tim Hardee and his wife will be bicycling 800 miles in 12 days and visiting all of the system’s technical colleges.

The goal is to raise $160,000 from corporate sponsorships, with the money divided evenly among the colleges for scholarships, and also to increase publicity for the state’s technical colleges and all that they have to offer.

Hardee will visit OCtech on Oct. 3, Steinhilper said.

• OCtech President Dr. Walt Tobin said the college has added the Calhoun Pledge program.

The state previously announced the S.C. Promise scholarship program, which offers free or low-cost tuition at the state’s technical colleges for recent high school graduates from certain areas affected by the Abbeville lawsuit. Those areas include Orangeburg and Bamberg counties.

Calhoun Pledge extends free or low-cost tuition at OCtech to recent graduates who live in Calhoun County. The offer is open to those who graduated from high school between 2013 and 2018.

Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Sandra Davis said that so far, the college has received 243 applications for S.C. Promise and nine applications for Calhoun Pledge. Both programs offer up to $2,000 in tuition to the college, after lottery scholarship money and Pell grants.

• Vice President of Academic Affairs Donna Elmore said preparing for the fall semester has been a busy time, with the rollout of new student planning software and revision of the college catalog.

All classes are covered for fall and all faculty has been hired. The college has seated the fall and spring nursing classes, she said, and positive changes have been made to aid student retention.

• Davis said that fall registration is continuing. Freshman orientation will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 14, and classes begin Aug. 20. Faculty and staff will man the parking lots for the first two days of classes to help students find their way around campus, she said.

• Commissioners approved four items: a review of the copyright policy, a review of the alternative admissions criteria policy, granting Tobin permission to sign an agreement for a $1.97 million U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Association grant for the new building and moving the balance of the money from last year into the capital projects fund once the final numbers are calculated.

• The commission discussed personnel matters in closed, executive session.

Contact the writer: chuff@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5543.

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