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Facilities Shine After Capital Improvements

Renovations to the Barbering Building on the Rocky Mount campus are among the numerous updates to Edgecombe Community College facilities and grounds in recent years.

Barber instructor Rufus McKoy is happy to have a teaching venue worthy of its clippings.

“It’s a state-of-the-art facility,” McKoy says of Edgecombe Community College’s renovated Barbering Building on its Rocky Mount campus. It’s one of a spate of capital improvements undertaken at the college’s two campuses over the last several years.

Students and visitors “are really amazed and happy with the changes,” McKoy assures.

The $580,000 renovation includes 16 new barber chairs and stations, up from the previous 11, and new shampoo stations, new dryers, improved lighting, a new HVAC system, and new roofing. Students of the tonsorial arts gather in a remodeled classroom and break room, and the facility also features new restrooms and lockers. Up to 20 students can now be instructed at one time.

The barbering program had previously shared the building with the cosmetology department, but with the latter’s move to the Tarboro campus, “the learning environment is more conducive to the barbershop setting,” according to McKoy.

Improvements like this have been popping up all over at ECC, thanks largely to the vision and efforts of the college’s Board of Trustees, ECC President Dr. Greg McLeod, and recently retired Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Debbie Batten. The goal has been to strengthen teaching and learning while also making the college’s campuses more inviting for all who spend an hour or a day there.

Worn flooring in the Barnes Building, Rocky Mount’s main administrative and classroom building built in 1987, was updated for $450,000.

The Barnes Auditorium got a $400,000 remodeling. The auditorium hosts lectures, Phi Theta Kappa inductions, and other college and community events.

The Barnes Building elevator, a wheezing dinosaur that had been out of service more often than not for several years, was restored to reliable ups and downs at a cost of $98,000. “The elevator was beyond its life cycle and we could no longer get parts to repair the mechanics,” Batten explains. “We had to completely modernize it.”

In Tarboro, the 1970s-era McIntyre Building, the main administration building and a focal point of student activity, had grown as outdated as bell bottoms and disco. A battery of projects yielded newly painted walls, new flooring, a repaired ceiling in McIntyre Auditorium, remodeled restrooms, and a new cashier window. The old bookstore was transformed into a new and inviting Campus Store, among other improvements.

“One former employee came back to visit . . . and could not believe how McIntyre had been transformed,” Batten says. “He said ‘it had never been painted or flooring updated in over 30 years!’”

Five faulty HVAC units in the Cosmetic Arts Building were replaced for $390,000, and an office was built for the esthetics instructor, who’d been working from a desk in the student lab.

Among other Tarboro upgrades:

  • Repainting and repairing the paint booth used in the collision repair and refinishing program
  • Repainting the Norfleet House, an 1810 farmhouse used for the college’s historic preservation classes
  • New restrooms and showers for the Basic Law Enforcement Training program in the Havens Building
  • New carpet and furniture in libraries on both campuses
  • New and refurbished parking lots
  • A new loop road to provide better access to all campus buildings

To effect these upgrades, the college accessed a wide range of funding sources, including NC Connect Bonds, State Capital and Infrastructure Fund money from a 2021 appropriations bill, and emergency federal COVID-19 funding.

Back in Rocky Mount, McKoy said he’s delighted to see the convergence of the new, upgraded teaching facilities and a return to normalcy after the pandemic, combined with a relocation to the Barnes Building during renovations, cut off customer traffic for several years.

“It’s been a while since we were able to serve live clients,” he says. While at Barnes, “We had to resort to working on mannequins and working on each other. Each of us was getting a haircut every other day.”

Tyree Foster, who completed the barbering program in December, says the transition time was “challenging, for sure, an adjustment for all of us . . . but now with the renovation, we’re all super excited.”

“We’re all kind of learning together,” he adds. “But it’s been a great experience.”