By Kaitlin Fleming, Staff Correspondent
On July 26, Gadsden State Community College hosted groundbreaking ceremonies for construction projects taking place on three of its campuses.
The first ceremony was held at the Ayers Campus, where an addition to the Cheaha Career Center is under construction.
The second ceremony took place at the East Broad campus in Gadsden for the new science building and renovations to Allen Hall across the street at the Wallace Drive Campus.
All three projects are a result of a $25 million dollar bond issue approved by the Alabama Community College System in March 2017.
In a released statement from Gadsden State, college president Dr. Martha Lavender said that Gadsden State is excited about the new construction projects.
“The projects address the college’s infrastructure needs of aging facilities so that our students have a comfortable environment conducive to learning.”
The Cheaha Career Center building upgrades will add eight classrooms, six offices and a 140-seat lecture hall that will also double as a tornado shelter.
“The addition to the Cheaha Career Center addresses the need for additional general education classes that support our technical and transfer programs,” said Lavender.
The new science building will replace the 51-year-old Browder Hall, which is located on the Wallace Drive Campus.
“The new building will have over 57,000-square-feet of classrooms, laboratories, offices, an auditorium and a tornado shelter,” said Lavender. “In addition, the science building essentially unifies the Wallace Drive and East Broad campuses.”
The campus unifying began in January 2014 when the Alabama State Board of Education approved renovations to the former Construction Trades Building, now known as the One Stop Center. The construction project started on June 23, 2014, and was completed a year later. The $4.1 million dollar project was funded by the Public School and College Authority as well as Gadsden State’s capital project funds. The One Stop Center replaced Allen Hall as an administrative center on campus.
With the new renovations and construction projects, Gadsden State hopes to offer better opportunities to its students.
“At Gadsden State, we focus on the three I’s – instruction, infrastructure and institution,” said Lavender. “Our priorities are not only quality educational programming but also continuous improvement. The construction projects are just one way we continue to improve the educational experience for our students.”
Renovations to Allen Hall, the oldest building on the Wallace Drive Campus and the college’s former administrative building, include upgraded bathrooms, updated electrical, new plumbing and upgraded heating/cooling systems.
“The renovation also enhances energy efficiencies of Allen Hall,” said Lavender.
Apart from Allen Hall’s energy efficient updates, the building will serve students in 22 classrooms and labs alomng with two student gathering areas. There will also be 42 offices and three reception areas.
Lavender estimated the completion timeline for all three projects to be the summer of 2019. She added that the buildings should be placed in service before the start of the fall semester of 2019.