Donalsonville welcomes BSC at groundbreaking

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2015

By Susanne Reynolds

Special to The Post-Searchlight


The sun was certainly shining down on Donalsonville Monday when Bainbridge State held the official groundbreaking ceremony for its newest downtown Donalsonville facility.

After years of planning and proposing, a longtime dream of Donalsonville residents who support both their community and higher education is finally coming true. On Monday, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held to commemorate BSC’s Donalsonville site.

“We must thank those who had a dream of an institution of higher learning here in Donalsonville,” said Dan Ponder, Mayor of Donalsonville. “Some of those dreams started decades, even generations ago. Though much time has passed, the dream never died and today we see that dream fulfilled. It’s appropriate that the sun is shining down. Today is indeed a bright day for this community.”

The facility will be located at the corner of Cherry St. and Hwy 84, where in 2011; a fire broke out and destroyed nine downtown businesses. Since then, the destroyed area became an eyesore in the middle of town, according to Ponder. Now, an innovative facility will claim the area, bringing with it both opportunity and promise for Donalsonville.

Ponder said, “This is not just a building rising from the ashes. This is a commitment on behalf of many people that believe in the future of Donalsonville and Seminole County. It is a belief that in providing educational facilities and opportunities, we can grow and prosper, not just as a community but as individuals as well.”

On behalf of BSC, Shawn McGee, the interim Executive Vice President, expressed the college’s excitement of opening a new educational facility.

He said, “We are excited to be a part of this community initiative and fortunate to have people like the ones in Donalsonville who want their community and education to thrive. Donalsonville has always been a strong supporter of Bainbridge State College, and we look forward to seeing brighter days because of communities like this.”

With Donalsonville being a school-based community, Monroe Bonner, Seminole County School Superintendent who attended BSC when it was Bainbridge Junior College, expressed his appreciation to both Donalsonville and BSC in helping to further the education of the community’s students.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Bainbridge State to our community. We are a community that revolves around education. We are proud of our K-12 school program and now we can go even further in offering an education to not only our students, but also extend that opportunity to surrounding communities, too.”

In June 2012, Donofro & Associates began design work on BSC’s Donalsonville facility. They discussed how the building would serve not only the college and its students, but the citizens of Donalsonville and Seminole County.

The building is designed to host classroom functions and computer learning labs, along with a community meeting room and kitchen for civic clubs, social gatherings, reunions, and other events. A group office space will also be available to local businesses.

Joe Donofro, the architect of Donofro & Associates, explained that the building will be energy-efficient with High R Envelope, LED fixtures and high efficient heat pumps. The building will have an Internet Hot Spot to provide WIFI service for those using the space.

The architecture of the building borrows materials from the BSC main campus, such as brick style, metal roof and storefront designs. Its interior will also be similar to the main campus buildings.

“We wanted to design the building to match the college’s main campus to provide a linkage between Bainbridge and the Donalsonville facility,” said Donofro.

Carroll Middleton with Construction CGM, is pleased to begin working on the construction of the building and believes it will be an asset to the community.

“It certainly is a great day for a groundbreaking,” he said. “Soon we will have a building here for people to attend, ride by and have pride in. It will complement the people in the community by helping the community grow and the economics grow.”

According to Ponder, this is just the beginning of a mission to better serve the community’s student; however, the mission is not finished when the new facility opens and holds its first classes. The education of the students is a never-ending task, made easier by having BSC in its community.

He said, “A great seed has been planted today, but it is up to us and those who come after us to nurture this center of learning and to nurture those who will come here to seek knowledge and a better way of life.”