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By Erin Smith

As Bladen Community College is preparing to close their satellite campus located at 675 Smith Road in East Arcadia, questions remain about who is responsible for making repairs to the building. In addition, the college has announced the closing of the satellite campus which will take place Friday, February 8th. The East Arcadia Town Board members say they want the college to make repairs to the building before turning back over to the town.

A walk around the exterior of the building shows peeling and faded paint and damaged and missing siding. At the time of BladenOnline.com’s visit, the building was locked.

The college leased the facility from the town of East Arcadia at a  cost of $1 per year. A copy of the most current lease, which was signed on October 19, 2017, reads, “Lessor shall be responsible maintenance of the exterior walls and roof of the leased premises during the term of the lease.”

The lease states the college will be responsible for utilities on the shop and classroom building and “routine building maintenance on space used by the lessee, grounds maintenance, repair cost of heating and cooling for space used by the lessee.”

You can read the lease in its entirety here.

A letter to the town from the college’s attorney, Gary Grady, dated January 23, 2019, notified the town board the college  is terminating its lease on June 30th, 2019.

New BCC President, Dr. Amanda Lee, is gathering information on the lease the college currently has on the building and exploring various options for offering classes in the future, according to Bladen Community College’s Public Relations Director Joy Grady. Dr. Lee began her duties as BCC President on Monday, February 4, 2019.

East Arcadia Town Commissioner Horace Munn appeared before the Bladen County Board of Commissioners on Monday night to ask the Commissioners to demand the College pay for repairs to the building before it is returned to the town board.

Former BCC President Dr. William Findt maintained the maintenance of the building was the town’s responsibility. Munn argued on Monday night that was not the case. He stressed he wanted the college make the necessary repairs to the building.

Dr. Findt said it costs an estimated $30,000 per year to maintain the building. He added 150 students from the East Arcadia community are enrolled in curriculum classes and online classes.

The reason BCC gave for the closing of the East Arcadia campus was low enrollment figures.

According to Grady, “Officially, it is going to close on Friday, February 8th.”

Currently, there are three part-time employees at the East Arcadia campus. One position works only 8 hours per week. A second person was offered a position on the main campus and that is under consideration. The third employee is retiring.

Grady was quick to add the college is exploring other ways in which Bladen Community College can continue to serve the East Arcadia community.

“We can’t afford to keep the building open,” said Grady.

A release from Bladen Community College states, “Bladen Community College (BCC) is committed to serving students of Bladen County. The college offers both curriculum and continuing education classes throughout the county as the demand or need presents itself. In the past, the demand for classes in East Arcadia was so strong that the college needed dedicated classroom spaces to effectively respond to the students. However, the community needs have changed and the college can more appropriately respond by securing classroom spaces when needed. Therefore, the decision has been made to discontinue the daily operations of the East Arcadia center as of Friday, February 8, 2019.”

The college offered both curriculum and continuing education options, according to the Bladen Community College website. Both GED and Adult Basic Education courses were offered Mondays – Thursdays nights from 5 until 8 p.m. BCC officials state that very few students enrolled in the courses offered at the East Arcadia campus.

Vandalism has also been an issue in the past in the community. There has been a report of vandalism at the fire department, according East Arcadia Town Council Member Lillian Graham.

She said someone removed the copper wiring from the air conditioning units at the East Arcadia Fire Department. Graham said the repairs were costly to the town.

When asked about the maintenance of the building used for the BCC East Arcadia campus, she said most of the damage is to the exterior of the building. She said the type of damage present is not due to vandalism but she argues is “wear and tear on the building.”