Home improvement has been the priority for Cougar Nation in the past year, as more than a dozen projects at Barton Community College have been given attention. Many are either in the works or completed, leaving just a handful that have yet to begin construction.
Most of the projects were on a pre-determined list of items needing attention based on their lifespans, which allows the college to budget ahead of time and plan repairs and renovations accordingly. The projects are all being paid for through capital outlay funds, which are allocated from the general fund specifically to pay for improvements and repairs to facilities.
Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said the college is doing its best to ensure quality is the focal point of the projects. He said the timely implementation of these projects is a sign that the college is proud to fulfill its mission and is operating to responsibly serve the public.
“Updating facilities and maintaining functionality, enhances the appeal of the campus and services represented. The college is poised to provide accessible and credible learning opportunities in the years to come,” he said. “The improvements reflect careful planning that has developed over the past five years. Continued enrollment growth over the past six years has served as the foundation for meeting current capital project costs. Through investment in our facilities, it is anticipated that improved and new facilities will be a factor in supporting continued enrollment growth; and thereby providing future funding for future capital project needs.”
Some of the more ambitious or noticeable projects include a new dorm building, the renovation of the Fine Arts Auditorium, a new indoor athletics practice facility, the replacement of the main gymnasium floor and a new practice gym floor in the Kirkman Student Activity Center.
Fine Arts Auditorium
Four decades of performing arts activities have taken a toll on the auditorium, and much of the lighting and sound equipment has never been updated. Since the standards for theater have changed dramatically, the Fine Arts Auditorium needed significant attention.
The college is funding the reconfiguration of the seating area to include lit aisles and comply with regulations in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To help support the project, the Barton Foundation has been operating the “Take a Seat” fundraising campaign. The campaign allows community members to sponsor an auditorium seat for $125, which will get their name, or the name of an honoree, inscribed on a plaque and placed in the lobby area. Learn more at TAKEASEAT.bartonccc.edu., or call Coleen Cape at the Foundation Office, 620-786-1136. The campaign will continue through Aug. 1.
The physical updates will be finished by mid-August and the lighting and sound equipment should be installed during the fall.
The new dorm building will add 46 new beds to replace the original apartment-style dorm buildings constructed in the 1970s. It will also provide some overflow space at the beginning of each school year. The new dorm is being built just west of the current housing area on the south end of campus. The project was started May 9 and should be finished by July 2014.
The athletic facilities at Barton are also receiving a facelift. The main gymnasium floor was replaced in 2012 thanks to funds donated by LT and Sheila Fleske of Great Bend. The court now carries their name. The new professional-grade court is more durable and is even designed to help prevent injuries.
The Kirkman Student Activity Center will be getting a new floor, as the current one is full of divots and broken tiles due to its use as an indoor track practice facility, among other sports for which it was not intended. A wood-floor basketball court will be added to the practice area after an ongoing project to repair the outdoor walls of the Kirkman facility is complete. The construction crews should be finished with the walls by July 22, with the floor replacement project beginning shortly after.
A third addition is an indoor practice facility to fill the off-season track needs that previously wore out the Kirkman Center floor. It will be built near the softball fields on the southwest side of campus and construction has not yet begun. Construction is scheduled to begin Aug. 15 and to be finished by Dec. 1. this year.