Early County site’s expansion officially underway

Published 6:17 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

Blakely—Moments before 16 golden shovels dug into the ground for the official start of construction on the $2 million, 10,000-square-foot Bainbridge College Early County (BCEC) Student Wellness Center, President Tom Wilkerson told the gathering of about 125 people that the new construction is a strong statement of the community’s commitment and support of growth and education in the region.

Those sentiments were echoed by the various speakers in their brief remarks, many noting how remarkably far BCEC has come so fast since becoming part of the college in July 2006. At that time it had 211 students. Fall Semester 2009 it has 965 of the 1,017 who registered. That figure does not include those who will begin in the half-term session that is yet to start, as BCEC Director Joan Simpson noted.

Also on the program were state Sen. John Bulloch, Rep. Gerald Greene, Blakely Mayor Ric Hall, Early County Commission Chairman Richard Ward and Blakely/Early County Chamber of Commerce representative Jack Watson, who spoke of the hard work that many in the community had done to make the impossible possible.

The hard work and cooperation it took to make BCEC and its new facility a reality was echoed by Bainbridge College Foundation Trustee Patricia Cleveland, who had served as director for the facility when it was part of Albany Technical College and was instrumental in its creation and its becoming part of the University System of Georgia.

Discussing the vision, design and concept of the building, which will include an expanded library/media center facility, were representatives of the three firms handling the BCEC Student Wellness Center project and its sister project on the Bainbridge campus. Lorraine Logan spoke on behalf of her firm, Hastings & Chivetta Architects St. Louis, Mo. Kevin McDowell of Jones, Lang, & LaSalle of Atlanta spoke for the project management team, and Bill Weldon, who is president of Allstate Construction Company of Tallahassee, Fla., spoke about the construction aspects of the project.

After the groundbreaking, visitors noticed the construction team conferring over plans. Completion for the addition is expected in Spring 2010. Adjacent to main building’s east side, it will include a fitness center, game room, reading room, the library/media center, computer lab, men’s and women’s locker/dressing facilities, snack area and office.

The expansion will provide increased space in the current building by using existing library space for offices and storage.