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PCC trustees confirm officers, OK construction estimate


Outgoing PCC Board of Trustees Chairman Peter Kragel passes the gavel to incoming Chairman Gary Evans.


By Deborah Griffin
Staff Writer

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Pitt County Community College Board of Trustees met on Thursday to confirm their new officers for the 2019-2020 year and approve an updated estimate for the construction of the new Center for Student Advancement.

The nominating committee recommendations for officers were Gary Evans as chairman, Don Mills as vice-chairman and Gloristine Brown as secretary.

The new officers were voted in unanimously.

PCC’s President, Lawrence Rouse, presented outgoing chairman Peter Kragel with a gift on behalf of the board, administration, faculty, staff and students of Pitt Community College.

“Thank you for all you do for Pitt County Community College," He said. "We look forward to your continued service on the board.”

Kragel ceremoniously passed the gavel to the new chairman, Evans.

“It has been my pleasure to serve in this capacity,” Kragel said. I couldn’t think of a better group of trustees, nor a more worthy cause or a better college to serve in this capacity.

"I have always been incredibly impressed with the leadership and the faculty and the staff at the community college," he said. "You know I think you all do great work it has been a real pleasure to do this.”

PCC Vice President of Administrative Services Rick Owens requested the board’s approval of an updated estimate for the yet-to-be-started Center for Student Advancement.

“This was approved originally back in August of 2018, which is when we began the advanced planning for the Center for Student Advancement," he said. "The next phase is to go to the creation of a design and construction bid documents."

For this to happen, the college has to submit to the State Board of Community Colleges an estimate with present-day pricing.

Trustees were given a copy of the updated form to review.

“The only downside is we have to use current pricing,” he said. “Current pricing in eastern North Carolina has escalated.”

Two years ago, pricing reflected the building estimate was $185 a square foot.

“Current pricing reflects about $350 per square foot,” Owens said.

Several factors contributed to the price hike, he said.

“One is that demand is high for construction in the area right now,” he said. An increased cost in steel is another factor.

Owens said he has spoken with local contractors who say the market value of construction should be dropping soon.

“The price should drop back down closer to the price we were anticipating, to about $200-$250 per square foot,” he said.

He told trustees in order to move forward with the building project, they have to approve the updated pricing estimate.

If approved, the form will be submitted to the state board. The board has to approve it, because there is state bond funding attached to to the project, Owens said.

He told trustees approving the pricing would not lock them into the current rates.

“We are not committing to a construction price of $12 million,” he said. “It is just an acknowledgement the board understands this is what the current pricing is.”

Owens told the board if there were unforeseen reasons prices did not drop back down there were a couple of Plan Bs.

“One is to go back in and reduce square footage of the building, or reduce features of the building," he said. "You can reduce costs that way. Another option would be to raise additional funds."

He also suggested there would be a new budget this time next year.

The estimate was approved unanimously by the trustees.