New College of The Albemarle electrical lab celebrated with wire cutting ceremony

Published 8:10 am Friday, January 21, 2022

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College of The Albemarle (COA) administrators, Dare County elected officials, builders and students gathered at the Professional Arts Building at the Manteo campus for the wire cutting ceremony for the new electrical lab on Wednesday afternoon, January 12, 2022.

COA President Jack Bagwell gave the welcome. “It is awesome to grow and expand the campus,” he said. “This is an example of what we can do when we partner together.”

Many members of the Dare County Board of Commissioners were present to celebrate the event. The Dare County Guarantee Scholarship program, funded by Dare County, provides qualified students with the ability to attend COA for free.

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“There are lots of exciting thing going on in Dare County, and we are blessed to be here. This is just a beginning step, there’s more to come,” Bagwell said. One year ago, the campus opened its new welding lab and this spring a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for the opening of the new state-of-the-art academic building currently under construction in Manteo, which will open to students in the fall.”

Robert Woodard, the chair of Dare County Board of Commissioners, talked about the county’s contribution and vision. “We are providing an opportunity at our location for students to obtain skills for a trade-based job. It is of utmost importance to retain students. Dare County needs skilled labor and it will also boost our local economy. We are stepping up to the plate and offering trades more and more,” Woodard said.

“We are living in truly remarkable times. We are blessed to live in Dare County today. We are looking forward to seeing this new facility full of new students and seeking opportunities that are available to our children in Dare County,” Woodard continued.

Next, COA Dean Tim Sweeney introduced Dave Stormont of the Outer Banks Home Builders Association, whose speech answered the question: What does the new lab means for students? “We have more work here [in the county] than we can deliver. There is more demand than there is labor. And we’re not getting ahead in that, we’re getting farther behind,” Stormont said. Citing the age of the majority in the electrician work force – mid 40s and 50s – “That’s concerning,” he said. “That’s a sign that we need to make some changes. This lab is a first effort.”

Stormont talked about the good income possible with trades, and the almost guarantee of full employment because of the growth of the county and the increased demand for labor.

After passing out honorary COA Alumni Association certificates and hats to builders Matt Neal, Jake Overton, Duke Geraghty and Dave Stormont and to Chris O’Neill from Kellogg Supply Company for their donations, it was time to cut the wires.

Doing the honors were the Dean of Business, Industry and Applied Technologies Michelle Waters, COA President Dr. Jack Bagwell, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard, Outer Banks Home Builders Association member Dave Stormont, general manager of Suburban Electric and new COA electrical instructor Mark Melton, builder Duke Geraghty and COA Dean Tim Sweeney.

Three wires were cut, after which visitors and students were invited inside to tour the new electrical lab. The first course offered in the lab is Intro to Electrical: Residential Basics. The classes began January 17 and runs through May 12, meeting two evenings a week.