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Lanier Tech expands in Forsyth, names building after patron James Harrington
Mike Moye, left, honors James Harrington Jr. on Tuesday. Lanier Tech, which is doubling the space at its Forsyth County campus, named the site’s main building after Harrington. - photo by Jim Dean

CUMMING — Lanier Technical College held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a major expansion that will double the space at its campus in Forsyth County Tuesday.

At the same ceremony, the college renamed the main building at the campus in honor of James Harrington Jr., a longtime member of the State Board of Technical and Adult Education.

Harrington tenaciously sought approval and funding for the Forsyth campus, the first expansion of Lanier Tech from its Oakwood site.

The building opened in 1998 and quickly reached its maximum capacity of students.

Mary Helen McGruder, a Forsyth County civic leader and member of the board of directors for the college, said that Harrington was a man who refused to take "no" for an answer."James was determined that Forsyth County would have a satellite campus for Lanier Tech and was relentless in his pursuit of that goal," McGruder said.

In addition to his service on the state board, Harrington was a 16-year member of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, where he led an effort to bring water and sewer to South Forsyth, now a burgeoning residential area.

Harrington had not been told of the renaming and was clearly touched by the honor. A lifelong Democrat, he was not reappointed to the technical education board following the election of Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The new building will house most of the school’s medical training programs, including practical nursing, radiology, sonography, cardiovascular intravenous technology, surgical technology and physical therapy assisting. A large economic development center is designed to hold up to 1,200 people for meetings.

The Forsyth campus, located on Majors Road south of Cumming, was isolated when it opened a decade ago. Since that time, the area has been buoyed by the construction of the nearby Ronald Reagan Parkway. In April, a festival-style shopping center, The Avenues at Forsyth, opened with 90 specialty store, restaurants and a multiplex movie theater.

The state approved $11.2 million for the Lanier Tech project in the 2007 state budget. An additional $1.5 million is included in the 2009 budget to increase the size of the economic development center. The 2009 budget awaits the signature of Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Lanier Tech is also awaiting final approval of $5 million for an expansion of its campus in Dawsonville.

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