BC center opens with awes

Published 8:55 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2010

UTTING THE RIBBON to the Student Wellness Center on Tuesday are Bainbridge College Student Government Association President Jana Simmons and college President Tom Wilkerson. Actual use of the building will be gradual as more staff is needed to be trained on the fitness equipment in order to properly train users of it, the bookstore will be moved later and a food vendor is still to be awarded.|Carol Heard

As Bainbridge College student Anthony Bennett walked among the workout machines in the exercise room, touching one and stepping back to look at another, his reaction was: “This is terrific. Everything is awesome.”

But then he looked up and saw the plasma TVs above the large glass windows looking out on the campus.

“Oh wow! Plasma TVs, too. That’s totally awesome,” Bennett exclaimed.

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Bennett, who lives in Cairo but is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said he had expectations for the new Student Wellness Center. But when he saw what he saw Tuesday following a ribbon-cutting and the $20 million building being opened to the student body and the public, those expectations were exceeded.

Justin Spear, another BC student who was looking up from the new gym floor, said he was very impressed with the facility that he intends to fully use.

Spear said Bainbridge College now has a facility on par with what some other four-year colleges such as Valdosta State University have.

“I’m very happy,” Spear said. “Everything is very nice.”

The new building is the first on the college campus built for the school’s students. In fact, the building is funded through a $125 student fee charge to each student per semester.

To demonstrate that the building is indeed for the students and student life, the ribbon was cut by Student Government Association President Jana Simmons with the assistance from BC President Tom Wilkerson.

When the building was first proposed, students complained about the fee.

“I have not heard a complaint,” said Simmons of any reaction she’s received so far. “It’s just a great place. … I’m excited about it. … It’s going to be a great asset to our campus.”

Phyllis Jarvis and her sister, Carol Register, were checking out the exercise room.

“I see where my money has gone to now. I used to complain about it. I won’t complain anymore,” Jarvis said.

Register said the new Student Wellness Center will be her favorite place to hang out while on campus.

Jared Hasick, a student from Thomas County, said, “I think it’s going to be a good place to exercise. I look forward to hanging out here.”

What a difference

Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting was not lost on the fact that it was two years to the day that the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center was officially opened.

There were repeated references to how awful the Kirbo’s construction went and how well the Student Wellness Center’s went.

Wilkerson made a further contrast by saying it took 427 days for the Student Wellness Center to be completed once ground was broken, and it took 1,950 days on the Kirbo Center. The Kirbo first opened its doors on Oct. 26, 2008.

And what a difference between the two projects: The Wellness Center was within the contract time frame and budget; principals on this project say there was not one cross word uttered, and there was not one change order. As Wilkerson said Tuesday, the whole Kirbo building was one big change order.

Gravlee named director

Justin Gravlee was introduced Tuesday as the new director of the Student Wellness Center.

He was formerly an athletic director at Grace Christian Academy and teaches tennis at the YMCA. He has also taught tennis with the City of Bainbridge’s program.

Gravlee is pursuing a bachelor’s in sports and fitness management at Troy University, and he earned two degrees from Bainbridge College, one in health and physical fitness and another in early childhood education.

Also on Tuesday, the college unveiled the first piece of artwork to go into the center—a portrait of Wilkerson.