COA Dare bond money bill finally gains approval of General Assembly

The current Roanoke Island campus is a combination of old and new buildings. Some are shutdown due to mold issues, including the auditorium (right). [Google Maps image]

After twice being sabotaged by previous lawmakers, the N.C. General Assembly has approved giving Dare County the money needed to renovate the Roanoke Island campus for College of the Albemarle, and permission to manage and maintain the buildings while leasing them to the community college.

The proposal, which cleared both the state House and Senate on unanimous votes after being introduced by Sen. Bob Steinburg (R-Edenton), would let Dare County use funds from the ConnectNC Bond approved by voters in 2016.

Money would be matched by Dare County to renovate existing buildings and construct new ones, while moving all classrooms and offices to the campus along U.s. 64 that was once Manteo High School and then Manteo Middle School, and repurposing the Russell Twiford Road campus.

This is not the first attempt to give Dare County state bond money and the other powers for College of the Albemarle.

A bill sponsored in 2017 by Steinburg when he was in the House initially included both Dare and Currituck counties, but was opposed by former Rep. Beverly Boswell (R-Kill Devil Hills), who voted against it. An amended version that put Dare back in failed to clear the legislature.

Former Sen. Bill Cook (R-Chocowinity) also opposed the bill. The Dare County language was stripped out before it passed the General Assembly. The Currituck building will be used by COA for its public safety program offerings.

Last year, Steinburg introduced a bill to give Dare County the bond money, but after clearing the House it stalled in the Senate on a technicality.

Steinburg, who was elected in 2018 to the state Senate, pledged during the campaign that the first bill he would introduce this session was the COA Dare bill, and promised it would finally gain approval.

Rep. Bobby Hanig (R-Powells Point) introduced matching legislation in the House, but the Senate quickly moved their version through, precluding the House bill.

Senate Bill 6 now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk for his signature.

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