SIKESTON - From a dream of a few local residents in the 1960s, the Sikeston Area Higher Education has become reality providing educational opportunities this fall for more than 1,500 students from throughout Southeast Missouri.
The establishment, growth and future for SAHEC were detailed Thursday by Judy Buck, the facility's director, during the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon.
Describing the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center as "a tremendous opportunity for the people of this area," Buck explained that each year enrollment has grown at SAHEC. "Lots of people are taking advantage of something you helped to create. This is your center," she added.
While the development of some type of higher education facility had long been sought locally, Buck explained that in the 1990s as Southeast Missouri State University and Three Rivers Community College began to partner on ventures, local leaders were approached about how the educational institutions could serve residents. With $1.5 million made available from the state legislature matched with funds generated through a sales tax approved by Sikeston voters, the Center became a reality in 1998.
According to Buck the first semester, SAHEC offered 14 courses and had 305 students.
By 2000, the permanent home opened along Highway 60. In addition to serving as an educational center, she said, the building is used by other local groups for meetings and educational purposes.
SAHEC now provides several two-year degree programs and 96 course offerings. There are interactive television classes to provide more educational offerings for students without having to add staff, Buck pointed out.
Looking to the future, the Center's director, explained they would like to increase course offerings and update technology. However, she added, there is quickly becoming a need for more room on the campus.
Also addressing the membership were Ginger Cox and Julie O'Brien, who are chairing the Missouri Delta Medical Center's Benefit Ball.
The 2003 Benefit Ball, scheduled for Oct. 4 at the Clinton Building, will raise funds for continued improvements at MDMC, according to Cox. She said funds raised at the event would be used to purchase additional kidney dialysis machines, which currently cost $18,000 each.
While these machines will be a tremendous addition to MDMC, it is going to require a great deal of support from the community, O'Brien said.
According to Cox, the committee organizing the benefit ball is using a new format for 2003 with 100 percent of the money raised during the evening to go toward their goal. Currently, the group is contacting businesses and individuals to underwrite the fund-raising effort.
Invitations to the event are now being mailed out. Those who would like invitations or further information should contact the MDMC Foundation Office at the hospital.
City Manager Doug Friend displayed the city's new publication, Sikeston Scanner, which is sent via computer to residents. The publication provides information about the city and upcoming events. Residents can log on to the city's home page - sikeston.org - where a link will enable them to sign up to receive the publication.
Parks and Recreation Director Jiggs Moore presented trophies to this year's winners of the Ninth Annual Corporate Games. First place went to Missouri Department of Transportation; second place, Sikeston Public School; and third place, Duckett Truck Center with the Good Sportsmanship and the Team Spirit awards presented to Brown Shoe Co.
Upcoming events include:
* The SACC will sponsor the Carson and Barnes Five Ring Circus on Sept. 9 at the Rodeo Grounds. Advanced tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available at the Chamber office.
* The Fourth Annual Business Invitational Golf Classic will be Sept. 18 at the Sikeston Country Club. Entry forms are available at the Chamber office.
* The next Chamber meeting will be Friday, Sept. 26, at the Sikeston American Legion building.
* Harold Jones will receive the Chamber's Lifetime Achievement Award during the annual "Gentle Roast" on Oct. 16 at the Clinton Building.