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ACC trustees award construction contract to Central Builders for mobile classrooms on 47-acre farm

Alamance Community College’s trustees voted unanimously this week to award a construction contract for the Bill & Nancy Covington Education Center project to Central Builders of Mebane.

Central Builders submitted the lowest bid, $283,000, to develop 47 acres along South Jim Minor Road into an educational center to be used by ACC’s horticulture, agricultural, and animal care programs. The property is located in the Hawfields community about three miles from ACC’s campus.

However, the original plans for the Bill & Nancy Covington Education Center called for a “permitted structure” but have since been scaled back to one modular classroom, ACC trustee Bill Gomory told his fellow trustees during his report from the trustees’ building and grounds committee.

Gomory told his fellow trustees Monday night that the scope of the project was changed in order to meet the overall construction budget, $380,550, which is being funded by a grant in that amount which ACC received last year from the North Carolina Trust Fund Commission. “The total project will be paid for by this grant,” Gomory said.

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ACC’s trustees had previously voted in April 2022 to award a $67,500 contract to RND Architects of Durham to design the Bill & Nancy Covington Education Center, which is named in honor of longtime Alamance County dairy farmer William “Bill” Covington and his wife, Nancy, both now deceased.

The Bill & Nancy Covington Education Center originally was envisioned as having an agricultural science building, an animal care building, and an event barn, based on a preliminary master plan that two architectural firms had developed for ACC. The preliminary “conceptual” plan also designated a portion of the property for a garden and other sections – such as flexible crop space, a chicken coop, and grazing/tree felling areas – where ACC students could receive hands-on instruction.

However, ACC president Dr. Algie Gatewood acknowledged in an earlier interview with The Alamance News that the preliminary plan for 47-acre farm could change, depending on the availability of resources.

RND Architects initially suggested developing the farm in multiple phases, the first of which would include: construction of a 600-square foot classroom building with two single restrooms; electric, water, and sewer infrastructure; site work, including a gravel driveway; and a partially-paved parking lot and paved sidewalks.

Gatewood told The Alamance News Tuesday afternoon that one mobile classroom would be installed at the site.

Nor were the trustees briefed on the scope of work to be completed by Central Builders, since the revised plans to develop the property now call for mobile classrooms, rather than a traditional classroom building.

The vote to award the contract to Central Builders was 9-0. Trustee Mark Gordon arrived later in the meeting; trustee Dr. Roslyn Crisp was absent; and trustee Dr. Charles Scott participated in part of the meeting by phone but was not polled for his vote on that item.

In addition to the bid from Central Builders, ACC received four other bids in the following amounts, based on information that ACC officials provided to the newspaper this week:
• W.B. Brawley Company of Wilmington, $1,038,777;
• H.M. Kern Corporation of Greensboro, $782,000;
• Bar Construction Company of Greensboro, $760,000;
• Hamlett Associates of Climax, $623,543.

“All bids received were over the approved budget for the project,” Tom Hartman, ACC’s associate vice president of administrative services and facilities, told The Alamance News Tuesday.

Central Builders had also originally submitted a bid of $489,000 for the Bill & Nancy Covington Education Center project, but ACC officials subsequently negotiated the cost in order to bring the contract price within the project budget, Hartman said.

The construction budget for the project totals $312,800, which includes 10 percent ($28,300) set aside for contingency and $1,500 for miscellaneous expenses, based on additional documents Hartman provided to the newspaper Tuesday.

Permitting for the work is scheduled to begin in August of this year, and materials are scheduled to arrive at the site this fall, ACC’s trustees were told Monday night.

Specifically, the contract with Central Builders calls for: Construction of a modular classroom with toilet room; handicap-accessible ramp; stairs; concrete pad for parking; extension of a water line from the road to the classroom building, plus a hydrant; and extension of electrical service from an existing panel to the classroom building, Hartman said.

ACC acquired the property in 2015 through an anonymous donation of nearly $500,000 that was specifically designated to buy the 47-acre tract on South Jim Minor Road, near Covington Dairy along N.C. Highway 119.

Graham native and former high school biology teacher Ronald Petree – who initially insisted upon remaining anonymous but later reluctantly agreed to speak to The Alamance News – said he had originally planned to buy the land from Covington and donate it to ACC for the horticulture program to use for 100 years.

Instead, ACC officials convinced the donor to give the money to the ACC Foundation to purchase the land directly from Covington.

However, the donor attached stipulations to his gift, requiring the property to be used for ACC’s horticulture program and/or related programs and limiting the number, size, and type of buildings that can be built on the property for the next 100 years.

See coverage of opening first two buildings completed with 2018 bond referendum funds:

ACC hopes to consider regional center with Guilford, Randolph county community colleges:

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