"Our renovation company was working days, nights and weekends," said Dr. Larry Kimbrow, TRCC executive vice president. The company, 4SEMO, located in Malden, also did the renovations in the Malden and Kennett centers.
Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Missy Marshall was quite impressed with the facility as well. "They have gotten this beautiful facility put together in a short amount of time," she said.
It is nice that TRCC was able to use an existing building and make it work, Marshall added. "Hopefully it will stabilize the neighborhood appearance," she said.
The facility, located at 103 Kathleen St., was officially opened to the public Thursday night, with a ribbon cutting, tours, and question-and-answer session.
Kimbrow and the TRCC staff are excited about the Center. "We think this is a great educational opportunity for us to provide to the Sikeston area," he said.
In addition to TRCC staff, several local residents were at last night's ceremony, including new students and their families.
"We came to look at the facilities," said Connie Hastings of Kewanee. Her 19-
year-old son, Tommy Branum, is enrolled for the fall semester. "We've heard it was a great school."
Branum, who hopes to major in computer programming, said the Sikeston location will be convenient for him and also save him gas, since he would have driven to Poplar Bluff otherwise. The low cost of tuition, at $89 a credit hour, also attracted him to the school.
"It's working well with his work schedule," added his dad, Wallace Hastings. "He's been out in the real world and decided he needed to go back to school."
Loretta Ditto of Chaffee is another future student who was at the ribbon cutting. She is finishing an English degree, which is required for her job at Head Start.
"I felt very comfortable with Three Rivers and just wanted to continue," she said, explaining she had taken a math class through TRCC at SAHEC. The location is convenient for her as well, since it is only a 30 minute drive.
Ditto is optimistic about the growth of the new Center. "I think it's something great," she said. "I'm ready for it to be something bigger - I know it's going to escalate."
Like Marshall, Ditto, who was raised in Sikeston, was happy and impressed to see the older building used. "I think it's awesome to regenerate a good building," she said. "It's beautiful - I am just overwhelmed."
Over 60 courses are scheduled to be offered during the fall semester, which begins Aug. 18. These include English, political science, science, computer and nursing classes.
The Center already offers all the classes someone would need to receive their associate's degree, Kimbrow said. As an open admission school, perspective students need only to have a high school diploma or GED to attend.
However, officials anticipate the nursing program to be the cornerstone of the Center.
"The LPN bridge over program will really benefit from this facility and equipment," Marshall said. "There is a shortage in that field in this area right now."
Marshall is hopeful the program will help remedy the shortage by allowing more residents to take advantage of it.
TRCC has virtually 100 percent placement of their nursing graduates, Kimbrow said. Since a lot of their students aren't traditional recent high school graduates, but adults, he and Marshall agreed the class schedule was convenient was those working full-time jobs.
"Everything you would find on another campus, we'll strive to offer here," Kimbrow said of the full range of services at the Center. The Sikeston location offers financial aid, scholarships, academic advising and is the only A-Plus institution in Southeast Missouri.
There are two ITV rooms in the Center, which can either receive classes from the main campus in Poplar Bluff, or transfer them to other locations, Kimbrow said. Two computer labs are in the Center as well.
The Center has full-time staff at the Sikeston location, who will be in their offices from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, Kimbow noted. The three staff members are: Michael Witt, director; Amanda Taylor, facilitator; and Shirley Kasting, secretary.
The college does not have an official number of the students registered at the Center yet, since registration will not end until two weeks after the first day of classes. "But they will be released," Kimbrow assured.
Those interested in taking classes can register at the Sikeston Center from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15; on the main campus in Poplar Bluff from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16 and 17; or online at the college Web site, www.trcc.edu.