A $250,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust will help furnish and equip a shared higher education center now nearing completion in downtown Medford.

A $250,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust will help furnish and equip a shared higher education center now nearing completion in downtown Medford.

The Rogue Community College board accepted the grant this week on behalf of a partnership between the community college and Southern Oregon University.

"This is a very generous grant," said RCC spokeswoman Margaret Bradford.

The grant will help pay for furniture, fixtures, science equipment and safety and security items in the 68,700-square-foot building designed to connect students to an array of educational opportunities and showcase how schools can work together.

The shared building is set to open this fall. A grand opening is planned Sept. 3 and RCC classes will start there Sept. 29.

Patrick Huebsch, associate dean of college services and manager of the project, expects final inspections with contractors and city officials to take place at the end of July. Faculty will start moving into offices in August.

"It's been a good project," he said, praising general contractor on the job, Adroit Construction, of Ashland. "It's under budget and close to on schedule."

Getting the streets, sidewalks and landscaping around the building done could be a bit trickier, he said.

That work is being handled by the Medford Urban Renewal Agency. MURA Executive Director Jackie Rogers said that, as is common in the downtown core, contractors found pre-existing problems with old, underlying construction. An underground tank had to be removed, utilities were buried at incorrect depths and a control box for traffic signals had to be moved, putting the project about three weeks behind schedule.

The work around the higher education center on Eighth, Ninth and Bartlett streets and Riverside Avenue will be done in September, in time for the building's opening, she said.

Work on the next block of Bartlett between Eighth and Main streets and on Theater Alley won't finish until early October, she said.

Already, natural light floods the atrium at the $22.2 million building's main entrance near the corner of Eighth and Bartlett streets. Now it highlights brooms, ladders and other tools of the trades instead of the comfy couches and shimmering metal art that will greet students.

"It's going to be a nice relaxing atmosphere for students," said Grant Lagorio, RCC's director of facilities and operations in Jackson County.

He's also looking forward to maintaining a new building designed for education instead of the amalgamation of remodeled downtown buildings RCC currently leases.

The building is designed to meet Leadership in Environmental Design certification, with recycling collection centers on each of its three floors, high efficiency boilers, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, on-site stormwater management and lots of natural light to reduce energy use.

It also sports security features that enable managers to electronically open parts of the building while keeping others secure, a phone and public address system to relay emergency messages, and special door locks designed for a safe lockdown in case of trouble such as a campus shooter, Lagorio said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.