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Officials Break Ground on Vet Tech Expanded Housing/Learning Facility

PENDLETON --- Tri-County Technical College officials broke ground May 21 on a new $1.5 million veterinary technology expanded housing and learning facility that officials say will help the College reach a goal of being the best Veterinary Technology teaching facility in the nation.

Currently ranked as one of the top 10 veterinary technology programs in the nation, the Veterinary Technology Department joined with the College Foundation for a groundbreaking and campaign kick-off celebration, called Extreme Makeover: Animal House Addition.  Faculty and staff, the College Commission and Foundation Board, local veterinarians and community partners joined President Ronnie L. Booth and College officials as they broke ground on the new facility.

"This is the right time, at the right place, and the right thing to do," said Dr. Booth, adding that the program has a total enrollment (day and evening students) of close to 150 students.  The new facility is designed to better prepare students and consequently contribute to their future success in the veterinary workplace, he said.

 "This addition is a big deal for us and our students," he said, adding that graduates work all over the state in private practice as licensed veterinary technicians, in addition to research, specialty practices, emergency clinics, and zoos or pharmaceutical sales companies and nutrition companies.   

Construction will start immediately, he said, with animal housing (kennels) completed during fall semester and a renovated Halbert Hall will be finished by fall 2016. 

 The College recently obtained all of the necessary State-level approvals to proceed with Phase I, the construction of a 5,500-square-foot structure that will replace the aging kennel next to Halbert Hall with an expanded housing and learning facility. The new facility will be built behind the current facility and will have 33 indoor/outdoor canine runs and the capability to house 28 cats, food storage, bathing areas, laundry and storage rooms.  The highlight will be an isolation ward that will meet AVMA accreditation standards.

Phase II will be the re-purposing of Halbert Hall for class space, surgical needs and labs.

"This new facility will mean the world to our animals and their health care, as well as the graduates, who, over the past five years, have had a 96 percent job placement rate. When employers see Tri-County grads, they know they are qualified and have had an experience that mimics what they will do in the field," Veterinary Technology Department Head Ashley Brady said. 

Retired Easley veterinarian Dr. Jim Mullikin, who serves as chair of the College's Veterinary Technology Advisory Committee, said veterinary technicians serve as an extra set of hands to handle many aspects of patient care, as well as laboratory procedures.  "They are a boon to our profession," he said.  "I wouldn't dream of opening the office on any given day without a veterinary technician," said Dr. Mullikin, who hired a technician from Tri-County's first graduating class in the 1970's.

The College Foundation took the opportunity to announce the launch of a $250,000 major gifts campaign to raise funds for scholarships and animals' medical needs.  "To date we have raised $50,000 toward that goal, with major gift donations from community partners Henry Harrison and Mrs. Juanita Garrison," said Grayson Kelly, executive director of the Foundation.  "The campaign starts today.  We hope you will be a part of it through various giving opportunities, such as Scholarship Gifts, Medical Fund (covers treatment and surgery expenses for animals received from local shelters), Memorial Gifts (a way to honor a beloved companion), Dedicate a Brick Paver  and In-Kind Gifts (such as pressure washers, generators, shelving, animal crates, transport trailer, cat cages, portable kennels, towels, blankets).

For more information contact the Foundation Office at (864) 646-1348 or online at http://www.tctc.edu/Foundation/Veterinary_Campaign.xml.