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story.lead_photo.caption The Texarkana College seal is seen in December 2015 on campus at North Robison Road in Texarkana, Texas. Photo by Gazette Staff

TEXARKANA, Texas — Texarkana College could soon offer workforce training to inmates at the Barry B. Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas.

During their regular meeting Monday, TC's Board of Trustees voted to apply to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to add the Telford Unit as an off-campus site.

The approval process takes from six months to a year. If SACSCOC approves the site, TC would begin offering certificates in construction technology, electrical technology and welding in fall 2020. Four instructors will be hired and the college will also purchase additional equipment for the program.

Dr. Donna McDaniel, TC's vice president of instruction, said the program, which will eventually offer associate's degrees, is being developed through a request from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"The TDCJ contacted us and asked if we were interested in partnering in offering programs at the Telford Unit," she said. Over the past six months, the college has been working with the state agency to develop the program, which will be offered to select inmates with pending parole, McDaniel said.

Inmates are not eligible for Pell Grants, but some are eligible with a new pilot program called Second Time Pell, which TC is not yet a part of.

"We are investigating that pilot," she said. State funds are available through a loan program and inmates' families can also pay for the classes.

"We want to serve our area," McDaniel said of the new Telford site. "Our mission is to educate our community with higher education credentials. The whole mission of the criminal justice system is rehabilitation so when they get out they can be productive citizens of society. They will need a skill set for them to be able to do that."

In other business, the board named Anne Farris as secretary of the board to fill the position previously held by Jane Daines, who resigned from the board in September. Farris is a DeKalb native and is serving her second term in Place 3.

Board President Josh Davis and TC President Jason Smith both thanked her for her service to the community and to the board.

"Mrs. Farris served as the first female superintendent of schools in DeKalb and also in Bowie County history," Smith said. "I am honored to have her as part of the leadership of our board and l look forward to serving more students in Western Bowie County by expanding resources available to rural populations. Mrs. Farris has worked in many of the independent school districts in which TC serves including Hooks, New Boston, Pleasant Grove, DeKalb, Atlanta and Redwater, Texas. She is looked upon as a dependable and reliable source of leadership and knowledge. We are blessed by her service to TC."

The board also voted to combine the November and December meetings. The next meeting will be held on Dec. 16.

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