NTCC campus closer to reality _lowres

Northshore Technical Community College site in Walker

When a proposal to build a Northshore Technical Community College campus in Walker came up short on the required local funding match, Livingston Parish government stepped up to fill the gap — with dirt.

The Louisiana Legislature authorized $5.1 million in bond financing for the proposed Livingston Parish Workforce Training Center in 2013, but the school must provide a 12 percent match, or about $615,000, whether in cash or in-kind donations.

In November, the School Board agreed to donate 12.3 acres near the Literacy and Technology Center for the site, which covered most of the local costs.

Parish Council Chairman Chance Parent said the project still needed another $127,000 in local funding to move forward, so the council agreed this past week to provide fill dirt for the site to help the school reach its goal.

“If we didn’t do this, the college wouldn’t be a reality right now,” Parent said before the council’s unanimous vote.

Mark Harrell, the parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness director, said the parish’s provision of dirt for the project would cost parish government little, while providing residents with a much-needed educational and skills training opportunity.

Northshore officials hope to offer courses in nursing, welding, machining and industrial maintenance. This would be the parish’s first community or technical college, providing the kinds of skilled metal trades and health sciences workers that studies have shown the local market needs.

“It’s a great opportunity for us. It really is,” Harrell said. “And it’s not going to cost us that much to get it done.”

NTCC Chancellor William Wainwright has said the new campus could easily enroll 1,000 or more students, including area high-schoolers who dual enroll with Northshore.

Under the agreement with the parish, Northshore must build the school on the proposed site within four years and offer post-secondary vocational training and educational services at the training center.

In exchange, the parish has agreed to provide fill dirt at a value to be determined through independent bids, deliver it to the site according to the project contractor’s schedule and allow for the dirt’s inspection to ensure it is of the type required for the project.

The parish also will provide liability insurance covering Northshore and its contractor for any claims arising from the loading, transport and delivery of the dirt to the site.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.