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LBWCC prepares to spend millions

Lurleen Burns Wallace Community College (LBWCC) is about to get bigger.

That was the news Monday during a special Greenville City Council meeting held on the campus of LBWCC on the Greenville Bypass.

According to Mayor Dexter McLendon, the city, LBWCC and the Alabama College System will construct a new technical center on the campus.

&uot;We’re putting the puzzle together,&uot; McLendon told a standing room only crowd in the college’s lobby.

&uot;We know that one of the pieces to the puzzle is training so that people can get good jobs and earn good salaries.&uot;

McLendon said a lot of the momentum for the new center rests with Butler County Rep. Charles Newton.

&uot;It was with Charles that the first ideas about a new high school began,&uot; he said. &uot;And it was with Charles that the first thoughts about expanding this campus began. I told him we had to have a technical school.&uot;

McLendon told those assembled that the idea for the technical school first centered on the old Greenville Academy property and state officials visited and looked around, but then nothing came of it. He said several weeks later, he was told the state’s college system wanted to be in business with the city and the plan began to take shape to build a facility at the LBW campus.

&uot;Some will not see the importance of this project,&uot; the mayor said.

&uot;But I believe it is our job to help others and this center and its training will help others have a better quality of life.

That’s our job on this earth, to help others.&uot;

City Councilwoman Jean Thompson, who is the director of LBWCC-Greenville, gave the audience some facts about the school.

Since 1983, 7,198 students have attended classes at the college.

They have ranged in age from 18 to 86 years and there have been 362 children to attend the school’s Kid’s College program during the summer.

The school has served international students from Canada, Germany, Iran, Japan, Russia and most recently South Korea. She also told a story about a prospective student she visited with a high school college fair.

&uot;He approached our table and I asked him if he was interested in LBW and he said he was going to attend LBW in Andalusia because it was a ‘real college’,&uot; she said.

&uot;I ask him what made it a real college and he said it was a real college &uot;because it has more than one building&uot;.

I’m happy to say that today, the Greenville campus is on its way to becoming a ‘real college.’&uot;

Thompson ended her remarks with a favorite quote, &uot;There is nothing like a dream to create the future.&uot;

One of the people present who is partially responsible for the college being in Greenville is Alabama’s Speaker of the House, Seth Hammett, who is President Emeritus of LBW.

Current LBW President Edward Meadows told the group Hammett was instrumental in Monday’s announcement.

&uot;This is the vision of Seth Hammett,&uot; Meadows said.

&uot;It is through his visionary leadership that this current building is here and that the new facilities will become a reality.&uot;

Meadows said a $2.5 million bond issue will be used to build the new center and it has been approved by the state board of education.

The two-story building will have a total of 22,000 square feet, roughly double the size of the current building.

A new nursing program offered by Reid State will be offered in the building, as well as offices for the Alabama Industrial Development Training program and the Alabama Technology Network.

The current building’s computer lab will be moved and enlarged to the new building while the old lab will be renovated and turned into a full service library on the campus.

Gary Weaver, AIDT project manager, told those assembled that the plans to build the facility comes from partnerships forged in past endeavors working once more.

&uot;This facility will be a much broader step into the future,&uot; he said.

&uot;This will be a cornerstone for other communities to look at.&uot;

He told those assembled that something he believes and tells other is &uot;shoot for the stars and if you can’t reach them, then grab the moon.&uot;

He also told those assembled that they have to think big to reach new heights.

&uot;Your attitude dictates your altitude,&uot; he said.

&uot;Try to have a positive impact on another person every day.

I believe that is what we are doing with the project.&uot;

Alesia Stuart, assistant dean at Reid State, told the group, that the partnership will allow for a greater impact on the community, something they’ve been doing for a while now.

&uot;We’ve been teaching in this community for several months,&uot; she said.

&uot;We’ve had many students from Butler County attend Reid State.

Now we can have an even greater impact on the community.&uot;

Stuart was alluding to the program being held in the old Revco building where people are trained to work. &uot;Every 10 weeks we prepare people to go to work,&uot; she said.

&uot;(This training) is for a group of people who would not have had the opportunity otherwise.&uot;

Stuart spoke on behalf of Dr. Douglas M. Littles, president of Reid State, who was in the hospital.

She said on his behalf, she was there to express Reid State’s excitement for the future and pleasure in being part of the partnership and helping make it happen.

Hammett was also on hand to offer his thoughts and said Greenville is a special community.

He recounted his early days as an instructor at LBW and how Greenville’s campus first began at the junior high school before moving next door to Lee Electric.

&uot;You could go to class and buy a washing machine in the same space,&uot; he said.

&uot;I remember thinking that situation was not reflective of the quality of the program in Greenville.&uot;

He praised the Beeland family for agreeing to the sell the property on the bypass so that the college could build there.

&uot;We bought it for a song,&uot; he said.

&uot;They understood the importance of what we were trying to do.&uot;

He said the cooperative effort by everyone to bring the project to fruition reminded him of a quote by Helen Keller, who said, &uot;I can do nothing.

We can do anything.&uot;

Newton also spoke about the whole community being a puzzle and that the plans to build the facility is a piece of that puzzle.

&uot;I think this announcement tonight is a big piece of the puzzle on where Greenville and Butler County wants to go,&uot; he said.

&uot;I believe this will change lives because people will learn skills and get better jobs.

PH&J Architects in Montgomery designed the building.

A third building will be located on the campus and will house a training center for industrial maintenance and high-tech welding.

McLendon said at this time a total cost for the building is not known but that the plans call for completion by December 2006.

He also pledged to help with projects like paving.

&uot;I will pledge tonight on behalf of the council that next year, there will money allocated for paving the parking lot at this campus,&uot; he said.

&uot;We don’t have the finances now, but we’ll find a way.

You have to work hard and plan ahead to get something done and this we will get done.&uot;

Butler County Commission for Economic Development Director Ricky McLaney also announced plans for a business incubator.

The incubator would help young companies survived during the tough first years by providing business assistance. In other cities, incubators have had a less than 10 percent failure among businesses using the program.

Light industrial companies would primarily use the incubator.