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Ivy Tech officials seek $10 million for campus

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Candidates for South Putnam High School Winter Homecoming King are seniors (front, from left) Ben Anderson, Heath Pruitt, Tyler Thompson, (back, from left) Derek Cash, Jacob Carpenter and Zach Miller. The king will be crowned at Friday night's home game against Cloverdale.
Ivy Tech officials hoping to build a 42,000-square-foot education facility in Greencastle next year are preparing to ask the state for $10 million in construction funding.

Ivy Tech Region 7 Chancellor Jeff Pittman told the BannerGraphic Tuesday that if the college is approved for the money during the General Assembly's current session, officials may be able to begin construction by late 2007 or early 2008.

Officials hope to have the state-of-the-art facility ready to receive students in 2010. Currently the college is sharing space with Area 30 and F.B. Distro on the city's East Side.

"I think the community is still optimistic and so am I," Pittman said of the project.

Hoping to sweeten the deal, the city has previously agreed to donate land for the new building at the corner of Veteran's Memorial Highway and First Street across from Greencastle Middle School.

Known as Rokicki Park, the land was previously earmarked by the city for a community park, second fire station and potential community center. Officials would like to use any leftover portion of that land for those projects.

Pittman said Tuesday the offer for the land still stands and that he is continuing to work closely with city officials on the project.

"The city has been really supportive," Pittman said.

Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael said the city is prepared to hand over control of the land to Ivy Tech once the state approves the construction money.

"The city is 100 percent supportive," Michael said.

Promises aside, all eyes are on the state right now to release money they promised for the project more than a year ago.

The state Budget Commission and the state Commission for Higher Education approved $250,000 in planning money that was to be used for preliminary plans for the project. As of this week, the state has yet to come through on its commitment.

"That money has not been released yet," Pittman said. "They have been holding money for all projects, not just Greencastle."

Despite the delay, Ivy Tech officials have continued to push ahead with planning for the project by making use of their own funding. Pittman said he believes Ivy Tech will eventually be reimbursed by the state.

In the meantime, Ivy Tech officials will seek to have the Greencastle project included in the state's budget for 2008 and hope to be approved by the Bonding Authority in order to begin construction as scheduled.

"We're continuing to pursue it because we really want the project to happen," Pittman said.

The mayor says she has told Ivy Tech that the city will do all it can to support the project moving forward.

"We have assured officials that we will be continuing to go where we need to go and talk to who we need to talk to in order to convince them of the importance of this project for our region," Michael said.

This includes meeting with Sen. Connie Lawson and Rep. Amos Thomas who have been supportive of the project as well.

The new campus will put the school in a position to handle student enrollment which is projected to be around 1,100 by 2015. The building will also include space for up to 38 staff members.

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