IF YOU GO
• What: Groundbreaking for new Chattanooga State Community College technical training center
• When: Wednesday, 2 p.m. CDT
• Where: 2100 Main St., Kimball, TN 37380
A groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday will mark the beginning of Chattanooga State Community College's future home in Marion County, Tenn.
The public is invited to celebrate the construction of a $2.6 million, 12,000-square-foot building at 125 acres the county owns on U.S. Highway 41 just inside Kimball, Tenn. It formerly was a horse farm called the Holland Farm.
Years in the planning, the building is the first of seven planned to house a Chattanooga State satellite "campus."
"It's just taken a lot of years to get to this point; we felt we wanted a pretty good celebration," County Mayor John Graham said. Eighty people have RSVP'ed for the groundbreaking, he said. Construction started about six weeks ago, Graham said, and the building's brick walls are already up.
Chattanooga State now is at the "Kimball site," a building at 426 Battle Creek Road in South Pittsburg, Tenn., that formerly housed a heavy construction equipment sales business and a church.
"We're busting at the seams here," site director Julie Bennett said.
Almost 500 students take classes at the Kimball site, Bennett said -- up from about 200 students when Chattanooga State first started offering classes in 1993.
Graham said construction of the new building should be finished in May. The college may offer some classes there next summer, Bennett said, and should move in fully by the fall. The new building will be home to general education courses, she said, and to a science lab -- something the Kimball site building lacks. Cosmetology and welding courses will remain at the Kimball site, she said, until a 30,000-square-foot technical building goes up on the former farm site.
Ultimately, plans call for seven buildings on the new site.
"We're building the first phase of a multibuilding project," Graham said. "It's going to take multiple years to build out."
Marion County sold $1.5 million in bonds to buy the Holland Farm land, Graham said. The county also got a variety of grants to construct the new site.
The county will own the new building and lease it to the college.
"That's not the normal way," Graham said. "Most community colleges in Tennessee, the building are [state]-owned. We wanted to put seed money in it and get it started."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.