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Talbot County Council casts deciding vote in favor of Chesapeake’s Center for Allied Health and Athletics

Project will enter the design stage in July and will come on line in late 2015 or early 2016.

Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2012

EASTON – The Talbot County Council’s 3-2 vote on June 12th in favor of Chesapeake College’s Center for Allied Health and Athletics provided final local approval for the project, which will enter the design stage in July and will come on line in late 2015 or early 2016.

Talbot’s vote followed approvals from the county commissioners in both Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. Caroline and Dorchester counties cast "no" votes on the project, leaving the ultimate fate of the project in the hands of the Talbot County Council.

Chesapeake College President Dr. Barbara Viniar thanked the commission majorities in Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties "who understood the importance of funding this project even in tough economic times."

"I appreciate the consideration all council members and commissioners in our five support counties gave this project," added Dr. Viniar, "including those who regularly support the college but did not feel they could vote for this project due to their county’s fiscal challenges."

Dr. Viniar also thanked "everyone – college board members, faculty, staff, students, and alumni; local Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Commissions; business people and citizens – who supported this project." She also noted the "groundswell of community support, as well as the editorial support this project received from The Star Democrat," which she characterized as "pivotal in this project’s approval."

The approval to spend approximately $8.5 million in local funding ensures almost $27.4 million in state funding. The ability to access the state funding was one reason Talbot County Councilman R. Andrew Hollis said he supported the project.

"Twenty-seven million dollars is an impressive amount to be offered by the state," noted Hollis, adding, "Our effort here is not just to create a state-of-the-art project for this need. It’s not just an educational enhancement. It’s also a major economic development project – 400 construction jobs during the course of the construction."

Councilman Dirck K. Bartlett said his experience as a general contractor and a recent tour of the Physical Education Building helped convince him to support the project.

"It really didn’t hit me until I got down in the basement and looked through the window into the pool," said Bartlett. "I felt like I was in the engine room of a 1940 submarine. . . . one way or another you’ve got to renovate the building."

The renovation will update the 41-year-old Physical Education Building, which has electrical and mechanical systems which have outlived their usefulness, a gym floor in need of replacement, and space deficiencies according to state guidelines on usage. The 45,872-square-foot expansion – which will more than double the building’s square footage – will allow the college to bring its nursing and allied health programs to the main campus in Wye Mills from their present undersized and outdated facilities at Shore Health System’s Memorial Hospital at Easton.

"We’re getting more and more students coming into the program every year," noted Talbot County Council President Corey W. Pack, who also voted to approve the project. "So we have to make sure that we’re keeping up with the technology."

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