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OUS Proctorville Center on schedule

PROCTORVILLE — Ohio University Southern’s new Proctorville Center is just weeks away from completion and the leaders at the school say it’s hard to contain their excitement.

The 17,000-square-foot building on State Route 775 will not be open at the beginning of the fall quarter Sept. 5, but is on track to open a few weeks later, according to OUS Dean Dan Evans. Still, he said, he is “overjoyed” with the project and the fact that it has remained on track and has not hit any major snags along the way.

The building will include 10 classrooms, a 2,000-square-foot commons room, a large computer lab, a resource room and a distance-learning classroom. The price tag is about $4.9 million, much of which came from donations from the community.

“The community can now see the fruits of their labor,” Evans said. “The passion and commitment of the people not only in Proctorville, but in Lawrence County and the Tri-State has made this project a reality. It’s a tribute to the people in this region.”

There are two aspects of the center that Evans is especially proud of, he said. The first is the commons room, which will serve as a gathering area for students and will be able to host community meetings, projects and events. Another is a four-story cupola, a feature on the exterior of the building designed to tie the center in with the other buildings of Ohio University in Athens, the dean said.

“The cupola is a defining feature of most Ohio University buildings. When you go to Athens they are at the top of the buildings. We wanted to put this at the center to tie it in with the others,” Evans explained.

He said the cupola has been special ordered and will be one of the last things put in place at the center.

The Proctorville Center started offering classes in trailers at the county fairgrounds the late 1970s. After other moves to Chesapeake and Fairland high schools, the center opened its doors on County Road 7 in downtown Proctorville in 1992.

Stephanie Burcham, was one of those who started her college education in Proctorville, where she is now director of the center. The completion of the building is especially meaningful to her, she said.

“It has been a long journey and it is very fulfilling. There is a real sense of accomplishment,” Burcham said.

She said the center is hoping to add more degree programs that will attract more students. The facilities will also have enough room for community classes, such as computer literacy, ballroom dancing and photography.

“We are going to be able to serve everyone from a child to a senior citizen and everyone in between,” Burcham said.

Evans, a first generation college graduate of Ohio University, said he knows how important having local access to an education is, especially to those who work or have transportation difficulties.

“I started at Ohio University when they offered classes at Ironton High School, so I got my start here,” the dean said.

“If it wasn’t for the local branch, I wouldn’t have gotten started. Coming back as dean and being able to continue that service mentality that Ohio university Southern is known for is very rewarding.”