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County Council Gets Update on USC Union, Receives Donation From Lockhart Power at Meeting

Daniel Prince

County to work with Jacob's Well to get them into former Buffalo Senior Center building

At Tuesday’s Union County Council meeting, Bryan Stone, president of Lockhart Power, presented Supervisor Frank Hart with a check for $155,000 for the county to use for economic development activities. Hart thanked Lockhart Power for being such a great partner with the county and noted that without them, there would have been no spec building for MycoWorks to obtain.

Mitch Sinclair made a presentation to council about Jacob’s Well. The nonprofit group, which was founded ten years ago in 2012, has a vision of giving hope to those in need by building relationships and meeting their physical needs. He said they provide food and clothing to those who need them. They take the time to listen to those coming in for services, and they share with them in order to foster strong relationships with those they serve. He noted the group holds two food distributions a month—one in Cross Keys and one in Kelly-Kelton. They also have been instrumental in placing Blessing Boxes throughout the county, with seven so far located in different areas. He said the idea behind them is to take what you need and leave what you can. The group asked the county council for the use of the former Senior Center building in Buffalo on Flat Drive to serve as its emergency food and clothing hub, as well as hosting space for private discussion and meetings as needed. Supervisor Frank Hart said currently the American Legion uses the upstairs part of the building for meetings, but they are open to sharing use of the building with Jacob’s Well. Council voted unanimously to allow the supervisor to work with Jacob’s Well to come up with an agreement for them to use the building. Hart said they would work through the logistics of a use agreement and liability.

Dr. Randy Lowell, dean of USC Union, updated council on USC Union’s activities. He thanked the county for its partnership with the university, particularly in offering the Union County scholarship, which allows students to stay home and attend USC Union for free. He said 33 students are receiving the scholarship right now. Enrollment has hit another record, as it has in six of the last seven years. He said with the spring semester, there are 1224 enrolled, with another month to go for more to enroll before the second half of the spring semester begins.

Lowell said the nursing program has its first junior cohort, where 16 participants are technically USC Aiken students but are taking their nursing classes and doing their clinicals and practical experiences locally. With the VR lab in the science and nursing building and hi-fi simulation manikins and lo-fi manikins, as well, in the nursing simulation lab, the students are being prepared for their careers with top-notch equipment.

The university’s participation in NJCAA for its athletic programs has helped grow the university, as well. They offer NJCAA volleyball, soccer, baseball, and softball. The Town of Jonesville has been very helpful in allowing the teams use of their fields and setting up an indoor training facility in the gym of the former Jonesville High School. He said the athletes have a 3.35 GPA overall, with the individual teams ranging from a 3.16 to a 3.57.

Lowell noted the university’s partnership with the Union County Library System, where the Carnegie Library serves as the university’s library, as well. They offer free tuition for first responders in the county, as well as senior citizens. Fees still have to be paid, but the tuition is covered. They offer online class options, as well, through their partnership with Palmetto College. The school also partners with the Union County School District to offer an early college program. He noted the original program offered tracks for nursing and elementary education, but he noted that rising 9th graders may not want to commit to those tracks early on, so they now offer a general education track now, and when the students become juniors, they can transition into the education or nursing tracks if they want. He also noted that the school is looking to hire some faculty and staff positions to continue to expand its offerings.

We’ll have more from the meeting in tomorrow’s news.

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