Panel-maker, RCC ponder partnership

First Posted: 1/15/2009

Scott Witten-Staff writer
LUMBERTON - Robeson Community College could partner with a company that builds insulated panels to train workers for the Lumberton plant. If the idea takes off, the facility could become a national training center.
The RCC board of trustees heard a plan Monday night to develop the Structural Insulated Panels Training Center on the college's three-acre site at the Carolina Commerce and Technology Center park.
Quality Housing Corporation, which is expected to complete its own plant at COMtech in January, would build the 2,600-square-foot training center at no cost to the college. The building would be used for manufacturing and construction crew training. The college would provide the instructors.
Major Sanders, company president, said the center also could serve as incubator for new ideas to improve the industry.
“We want to teach students how to build a better mousetrap,” he said.
Sanders added that he has talked with officials with the Structural Insulated Panel Association about the possibly of the facility becoming a national training center. The building would contain office space, display areas and a shop/lab area.
“Right now there is nobody really doing this kind of training in a large-scale way,” Sanders said. “This county may end up revolutionizing insulated panels.”
Quality Housing is expected to employ about 70 people when the plant opens. It is the first industry to locate in the park.
In other business, the trustees voted to increase President Charles Chrestman's annual local supplement from $12,540 to $14,540 beginning on Jan. 1.
Trustee Sammy Cox, who made the motion for the increase, said the board wants to show its appreciation for the job Chrestman has done in his two years at the college. Cox added that the average supplement for community college presidents is about $25,000.
“”We're trying to get him up to where the state average is,” Cox said. “It is not a lot when you consider the job Dr. Chrestman has done.”
The board also acknowledged that $101,069 must be reverted back to the state to help with hurricane relief efforts. Chrestman said state leaders have been unsuccessful in getting federal funds to help with the clean-up effort and the likelihood of the money being restored is “very slim.”
The board also:
- Swore in Trustee Shirley Stockton of Lumberton to replace Loistine DeFreece. Stockton, a former educator, will served out the remainder of the term, which ends June 2005. DeFreece resigned last month to serve on the county Board of Education.
- Announced that officials from the University of North Dakota's Aerospace Program will begin a two-day visit to RCC on Jan. 8 to discuss the possibility of opening a center to train pilots at the college.
- Announced that the college will be closed from Dec. 23 to 31 for the Christmas holiday.

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