Looking back: Area considered for a community college

Published 11:00 am Friday, February 26, 2016

by Clyde Parker

February 26, 1966

A survey to determine the need for a two-year community college in the Franklin-Southampton area will be conducted by the Virginia State Department of Technical Education.

Franklin and Southampton governmental and civic officials requested the survey, the initial step leading to an application for a community college.

Officials of the City of Franklin and Southampton County and a delegation from the Franklin Chamber of Commerce met at Cypress Cove Country Club on Tuesday to hear Virginia Technical Education Director Dana B. Hamel outline the community college program. He informed the group of steps that must be taken prerequisite to the establishment of a community college.

Joseph P. King Jr., Chairman of the newly appointed Franklin Industrial Committee, arranged the meeting.

“A community college isn’t exactly a new industry,” King told The Tidewater News. “But, if we are to be successful in our efforts to get a community college, we should consider it one. =And, it is going to have to be a community-wide project. We want to offer the services of the Franklin Industrial Committee. The reality is — a community college IS a new industry.”

Hamel was introduced by Sol W. Rawls Jr., Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth of Virginia Higher Education Study Commission. Also serving on this commission is General Assembly Delegate Sam Pope of Drewryville.

Hamel explained that the purpose of the proposed community college would be to provide occupational education designed to train people in this area for gainful employment in business and industry. It would fulfill the educational requirements, necessary, to meet manpower needs of the community by offering technical and semi-professional programs at the college level.

Also envisioned is a broad adult education program and facilities designed for persons currently employed for the purpose of gaining new skills and to keep abreast of new development in their fields.

Such basic college level courses as English, economics, applied psychology and American and Virginia governments would be required of all full-time students. Students attending the two-year college will accumulate credits that can be transferred to a four-year college.

If a community technical college were established here, it would serve a broad area of at least 100,000 in population within a 35-mile radius of the campus.

“Franklin-Southampton is a logical site,” said Hamel. “However, other sites may be considered.”

Isle of Wight County, Nansemond County, and the City of Suffolk may be included in a yet to be identified region along with Franklin and Southampton.

Legislation authorizing a community college system for Virginia was enacted by the 1964 General Assembly. In accordance with that legislation, communities to be served by community colleges must provide the land and the buildings. The site should be a minimum of 50 acres and should be located on a major highway. Strategically located two-year technical colleges in Virginia, essentially, will be commuting colleges. Students will live and board at home, not at the schools.

Joint City-Chamber effort lures new industry

An industry employing 40 to 50 people is coming to Franklin. Thomas E. Powers, Franklin Chamber of Commerce President, made the announcement at the organization’s annual dinner meeting Wednesday night.

Powers described the new business as a peanut processing operation, which will employ local people and have a payroll between $150,000 and $200,000. Approximately $2 million to $3 million worth of peanuts will be purchased from Franklin, Courtland and Suffolk peanut businesses.

The effort to bring the business here was described as a joint effort between the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and City of Franklin officials. Initiatives to secure the peanut processing plant were started a year ago. Recently, city engineers completed a week-long conference, mapping out building and utility plans with officials of the new industry.

The plant will be located on three acres of land fronting on Route 671, just west of St. Regis Paper Co.

Approximately 150 Chamber members and their wives attended the $2.50 per plate dinner held at Cypress Cove Country Club.

During the meeting, Past Chamber President Ashby Rawls outlined the progress of the organization during 1965.

Secretary-Treasurer Asa Johnson reported on the financial condition of the Chamber. During the year 1965, the organization showed a deficit of approximately $3,000.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net