April 09, 2014 Edition

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Chamber members hear update
on two BRTC building projects

Alan Haskins of Walnut Ridge, director of the Fire Science Program at Black River Technical College, tells Chamber members about plans to build a new drill tower at the Walnut Ridge Airport. Ramonda Housh (left), division chair for Allied Health, also spoke regarding an expansion of the college's health and science facilities.

Gretchen Hunt

Those in attendance at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce's quarterly meeting on Thursday learned about two major Black River Technical College building projects that will begin soon.

Alan Haskins of Walnut Ridge, who serves as director of BRTC's Fire Science Program, said funding has been acquired and construction should begin soon on a new drill tower at the Walnut Ridge Airport.

He said the existing tower, which was built by the Walnut Ridge Fire Department in the early 1980s, does not meet current standards and has suffered some damage through the years.

With the new tower, BRTC will be able to better serve both its students and area fire and police personnel who use the tower for training.

Haskins said the new tower will also provide the only local training site to simulate how to work with sprinkler systems.

From fall of 2008 to spring of 2013, BRTC has provided 3,136 training hours to area fire departments.

"This new tower will allow us to provide even more training," Haskins said.

He thanked State Sen. Robert Thompson and State Rep. James Ratliff for helping acquire a little over $300,000 in state funds. The total project is expected to cost around $1 million.

Haskins also told Chamber members that BRTC can provide training for businesses, including fire extinguisher training and CPR training.

Ramonda Housh, division chair for Allied Health, addressed the group about the expansion of the college's health and science facilities.

With assistance from a USDA low-interest, fixed-rate loan, BRTC plans to construct a 39,115-square-foot facility, compared to the current 19,663 square-foot building.

Housh said doing so will allow BRTC to increase the number of students who can be admitted into the nursing program.

The new facility will offer more lab space for the science program and more simulation labs for the nursing program.

Housh said simulation is a very important tool in the nursing program, because students can practice procedures without fear of harming an actual patient.

Tonya Hankins, program director for nursing, also represented BRTC at the event.

Leadership LawCo. graduation held

Leadership Lawrence County Class IX also held its graduation ceremonies during the quarterly meeting.

Lloyd Clark spoke on behalf of the class and discussed the group's efforts to provide bicycles for use by Lawrence County drug court participants and to place historical markers at communities throughout Lawrence County.

Other members of the class include Frema Gipson, Pamela Meridith, Ashley Cavenaugh, Debbie Smith, Aaron Andrews, Frank Owens, Cynthia Blackburn, Rob Combs, Josh Bryan and Michelle Salard.

Diana Shelton and Junior Briner served as leaders for the class.

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