Webb City breaks ground for campus expansion

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By James Walls
Copy Editor

The ground breaking ceremony for Crowder’s Webb City campus expansion took place at 10 a.m., Tues., July 16, headed by Interim President Dr. Kent Farnsworth who started the ceremony off with his past experience with the facility.

“Fifteen years ago I was up here helping cut the ribbon for this facility,” said Dr. Farnsworth near the beginning of his speech, “so it’s an exciting day for me and all of you, I know, to be back here for a major expansion project for this center.”

According to Farnsworth, the initial beginning of the Webb City campus was highlighted by the cooperation from the city of Webb City, the school and business district, and from all the citizens of the community.  He then went on to tell of the significance of the ground breaking.

“Today signals a continuation and strengthening of that bond with the community,” said Dr. Farnsworth, “of our service to the citizens of this part of Jasper County and the beginning of a new era, I think, in expanding services in education.”

Helping get the expansion for the facility underway was Jim and Treva Dawson who matched fund donations for this project. According to a news release from Cindy Brown, Director of Public Information, with the Dawson’s generous support, the expansion is off to a good start.

The proposed new addition will be a 22,000 square foot expansion, with over a dozen classrooms and labs which will allow for new programs such as the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program and a Public Safety Training program. It will also serve as a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shelter, offering a 9,000 square foot tornado safe room, which will provide students, staff and community residents with a safe place to go from dangerous storms.

During the ceremony, other speakers such as Andy Wood, Chairman of the Board, Jim Dawson, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee and Webb City Mayor John Biggs all spoke favorably of this expansion.

“Somebody had a vision many years ago about the Webb City campus of Crowder College,” said Dawson, “and that vision’s ongoing and we’re stepping in to fill the gap of that next phase of that vision.”

It was at 10:20 a.m. that the actual ground breaking took place, with Dr. Farnsworth and the others involved all lining up as they each took a shovel. Jim Dawson was invited to be the first to break ground of the new expansion site, followed by the others who helped make the project possible.

As to what the expansion means for the community is uncertain, but many feel it will be a great benefit.

“The availability of affordable education for up to 2,700 people,” said Mayor Biggs as he related his thoughts. “This encourages more people to go to college and it will probably help Missouri Southern and other local colleges and it’s just great for economic development.”

“Webb City is the area where we’ve had the greatest growth potential for the last…four or five years, and we just simply haven’t had the capacity in terms of classrooms and laboratories,” said Dr. Farnsworth. “We’ve been completely full, and so until we add additional classroom we can’t grow here.  But with this expansion we should be able to add another thousand students.”

With the project underway, the Webb City campus expansion is planned to open in the fall 2014 semester.