Officials broke ground Tuesday evening on a new Mid-Plains Community College Valentine Campus. Pictured left to right are: Jacob Sertich; Linette Butler; Brenda Benjamin; Tad Pfeifer; Bonnie Kruse; Garry Lawyer; Mike Steele, MPCC area vice president of administrative services; Mike Burge; MPCC President Ryan Purdy; Ernie Mehl; Jennie Nollette; Cindy Duncan;, Dr. Jody Tomanek, MPCC area vice president of academic affairs and North Platte Community College; Dave Dent; Shane Siewert; Matt Broz and Louie Stithem.
It's official – Valentine has a new college campus.
Mid-Plains Community College broke ground Tuesday on a site at 715 E. Highway 20 - next to The Niobrara Lodge.
Businessmen and women from throughout Cherry County, as well as a representative from Congressman Adrian Smith's office, joined MPCC board members, administrators and staff for the ceremony.
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer sent a statement, which was read by MPCC President Ryan Purdy. Purdy recognized those in attendance and thanked everyone for coming.
"We are here to celebrate an event that has been in the works since we established a campus in Valentine in 2002," said Purdy. "When we established our 'storefront,' our goal was to see the need to expand. Today our expansion dream turns into reality."
Up to this point, MPCC has offered classes out of a one classroom, one office building at 113 North Hall Street, and in high schools throughout Cherry County. A total of 173 students completed 289 courses through the MPCC Valentine Campus last year.
Last year also marked a milestone for the college in that Margaret Rosfeld, a student at Cody-Kilgore High School, became the first to graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree from MPCC at the same time.
An increased demand for services has led to the need for a larger facility. The new campus will feature an approximately 7,500-square-foot building that will include five classrooms and a technical training shop.
"We expect an increase in enrollments with the increase in space," said Jennie Nollette, Valentine Campus coordinator. "People around here are very excited about this. It's been a long time coming."
Work on the estimated $2.6 million campus will begin immediately. Site prep has already started and construction will commence in the near future. The goal is to begin offering classes at the new campus in 2017.
Purdy said the project is not yet fully funded. He said the college has secured or received pledges for more than 80 percent of the funds needed to complete the project and is waiting to hear back on grants that have been written to cover more than half of the remaining funds needed. He urged those in attendance to consider making a contribution to the project if they hadn't already.
"This is your college and your campus," said Purdy. "We are focused on providing the educational, career and technical and community suggested programs that you request. We need your resources, your input and your vision. Together, we can grow Valentine and the Cherry County region."