BY LENA MITCHELL

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH - If every day held as pleasant a surprise as Friday did for officials at Northeast Mississippi Community College, Phase II construction at the Corinth expansion facility could begin right away.

A surprise telephone call informed NEMCC President Johnny Allen that Magnolia Regional Health Center is donating $250,000 to the expansion project.

"This is a sponsorship gift for the library," Allen said. "It is the biggest gift of its kind that we have received."

The partnership between the hospital and the college goes back a long way and includes the hospital's support of the school's nursing program and in training athletic staff. But this gift is something special.

"We were just overwhelmed by it," Allen said.

The hospital has benefited significantly from the college's nurse training program, CEO Rick Napper said during Friday's announcement of the gift. He credited the school with enabling the hospital to remain fully staffed in nursing when other medical facilities struggle to fill positions.

Also announced Friday was a $20,000 donation from Commerce National Bank.

The first phase of turning an old Garan Manufacturing plant into a Northeast campus in Corinth nears completion, and a ribbon-cutting is expected soon. The first completed section will house offices of the state WIN Job Center, including employment security, unemployment compensation, adult basic education classes and so forth.

Construction coordinator Nelson Wall also has been charged with helping to raise $1.5 million to begin construction of Phase II, which includes classrooms and student facilities such as the library.

"We're not there yet in actual pledges," Allen said. "We have about half a million we can count, but we think there's another $900,000 imminent."

Contact Daily Journal Corinth Bureau reporter Lena Mitchell at 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com

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