Two vacant buildings in the 100 block of Middleton Street

Two vacant buildings in the 100 block of Middleton Street will be repurposed for continuing education programs by Sandhills Community College. (Courtesy Photograph)

The Robbins Board of Commissioners on Thursday cleared the way for a continuing education center on Middleton Street.

Following a quasi-judicial hearing, the commissioners voted to issue a conditional-use permit allowing Sandhills Community College to move its James H. Garner Center for Community Education to downtown Robbins. The center was previously located in the 2300 block of N.C. 705 on property deeded to the college for $1 in 2010 by the state Department of Transportation.

Earlier this year, the college offered to transfer ownership of the 8,000-square-foot center, along with 10 acres of accompanying land, to the county. Larry Upchurch, a member of the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees, had told county commissioners that the center was too large for the school’s needs.

When discussing other potential uses for the building with county leaders, Upchurch said, it became “clear that the county could more effectively use the facility to provide services in many areas.” County commissioners voted unanimously in June to accept ownership of the property for $1, the same amount paid nearly a decade ago by the college.

Andi Korte, vice president of continuing education and workforce development for SCC, began looking for a new site to host the center’s classes. The school settled on a pair of vacant buildings in the 100 block of Middleton Road.

The neighboring buildings, which are located across the street from town hall, once housed a hair salon and a lawyer’s office. SCC secured the properties after working out an arrangement with landowners Jarius, Diann and Geraldine Garner.

They are not related to James Garner, the Robbins native for whom the facility is named. James Garner is the former president and CEO of First Bancorp, parent company of First Bank.

As it did at the old location, the Middleton Road center is expected to offer English as a second language classes along with continuing education programs.

Mayor Lonnie English said the facility will be a welcome addition to downtown Robbins.

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said.


Jaymie Baxley is a reporter covering crime, public safety and general news for The Pilot. He previously worked at The Robesonian in Robeson County and The Daily Courier in Rutherford County.

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