East Central College trustees gave authorization Monday morning (April 13) to purchase a building near campus to house several of its career and technical programs.
The board approved purchasing the former Gala Center, located southeast of the main campus in Union.
The Precision Machining and Industrial Engineering Technology programs currently housed at Four Rivers Career Center in Washington will be relocated to the new facility, as well as the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning program now located on the main campus.
College President Dr. Jon Bauer said the purchase is an exciting opportunity for the college.
“This purchase is the next phase in the development of the college, and it will enable us to grow and enhance these critical programs,” Bauer said. “This opportunity allows us to accomplish this within the next year, and to do so at a cost much less than new construction.”
The cost of the building is $1.2 million. The college is purchasing the facility from Bequette Construction, Inc.
Once the purchase is finalized, work will begin on plans for its renovation. Bauer said he expects renovation to begin later this year, with the relocation of the programs expected in 2016.
“The building is as close as you can get to the main campus. It will allow students in these programs to more easily access the full array of services available on campus, and to schedule classes without traveling between two locations,” Bauer stated. “With this enhanced facility we will be able to increase enrollment in these programs and subsequently better serve the region.”
East Central will continue to partner with the School District of Washington on several programs, including Automotive Technology, Building Construction, Welding, and Early Childhood Education.
Bauer noted that East Central College has benefitted from the partnership with the School District of Washington for decades. “Our joint programs will continue and our partnership has never been stronger.” As the district is able to utilize additional space at Four Rivers, Bauer said there is potential for even more collaboration with the college.”
“The timing will be good for both institutions as we work to provide more opportunities for our students, Bauer said.
“I wish to congratulate East Central College on the acquisition,” said Dr. Lori VanLeer, superintendent of the School District of Washington. “Both ECC and the School District of Washington need more space as we are always looking for ways to maximize efficiency while also providing outstanding programs and services for students.
“We consider this an opportunity to potentially expand and build on our partnership with the college. We have a joint commitment to serving students of this region and we value our relationship with the college. Although they are relocating some programs, it opens the door for innovation on both fronts. I believe in the future we will see business, industry, the college and the School District of Washington working even more closely to ensure the success of students,” VanLeer said.
This year ECC is paying $80,769 to the school district to lease 12,426-square feet of space at Four Rivers. Bauer stated that ECC plans to continue to offer general education classes as needed in Washington and will continue to work with business and industry on non-credit and customized training courses.
Existing fund balances will be used to purchase the 19,807-square foot building. The facility was built in 2007.
Jim Perry, president of the ECC board of trustees, stated that the college is fortunate to acquire a building of that quality for the price. “This is a great opportunity to acquire space for several of our career-technical programs in such close proximity to campus,” Perry said. “Students will benefit from being closer to services available on campus.”
The former Gala Center sits on 4.33 acres and includes parking for 255 vehicles.