Community helped OUPC dream become reality

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

Even with a few storm clouds overhead, the future of Lawrence County became a little brighter Tuesday afternoon on a hill in Proctorville.

With a few ceremonial turns of a shovel, years of planning came to fruition as leaders of Ohio University celebrated with the community members who helped keep the dream of the OU Proctorville Center alive.

OUPC represents more than just the latest building project for Ohio University.

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The new facility represents the importance of Lawrence County to the university and the Tri-State.

With an already successful regional campus in Ironton, expanding the university's reach into the eastern part of Lawrence County solidifies OU's place in the hearts and minds of Lawrence County residents. In addition, it firmly secures the future of higher education in the county.

New buildings at universities are fairly commonplace, but what happened in Proctorville was special.

A new higher education facility in the Proctorville - once planted, the seed quickly blossomed and the community suddenly became occupied by newly found gardeners.

Tiny seeds - even ones that are just ideas - need careful tending, and volunteers from all over the county began doing just that.

In sports, coaches often say that success in the big games requires not only "big play" from the team's "big players" but also stellar play from the non-stars, too. And in the work to raise funds and keep the dream alive, OUPC was no different.

Initially, people such as Marshall Smith who donated the land for the center and Doug Freeman who was a huge individual contributor stepped up to the plate and put their money and support behind the center.

OU's local leadership including Ohio University Southern Dean Dr. Dan Evans and OUPC Director Stephanie Burcham and former OUS Dean Dr. Bill Dingus deserve much credit for the endeavor.

From initially dreaming up the center through seeing it through thick and think, the trio - along with countless others at OU - have truly kept the project moving.

Casual observers might think that only a handful of people have made it all come together. They would be mistaken.

A look through the faces in the crowd at Tuesday's official groundbreaking illustrated the true diversity of the project. It is truly a community effort and one that joined neighbors from all walks of life with a singular focus - make the Ohio University Proctorville Center a reality. And a dozen or so shovel holes in a hill off State Route 775 prove the effort is well on its way.