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RCC builds on the future

College purchases downtown buildings; Table Rock Campus set to open by fall

Rogue Community College has completed a &

36;4 million deal to buy three buildings and two parking lots at its Riverside Campus in downtown Medford, tapping some of a &

36;24 million bond voters approved in November.

The college bought the property, which RCC has leased since 1997, from Alan DeBoer. DeBoer also donated another campus building, valued at about &

36;2 million, to the school.

The purchase is the latest bit of spending from the bond passed last year to provide money for the college to buy leased property at its downtown campus and to develop a technical training center called the Table Rock Campus in White City. Part of the bond also was earmarked to pay off debt.

We are doing what we said we would with this money, said Lynda Warren, the college's chief financial officer. So far, the college has spent &

36;5.5 million of the bond funds to repay debt taken on to buy and start remodeling the former Tyco building at 7800 Pacific Ave., which is now well on its way to becoming the Table Rock Campus. An additional &

36;4.8 million worth of bond funds helped pay for remodeling.

Downtown, bond money paid off roughly &

36;3.4 million of debt left from buying the old Montgomery Wards building at 117 S. Central Ave. in 2000 and remodeling various leased buildings, Warren said. After the downtown purchase, about &

36;6.3 million worth of bond funds remain available for building projects, she said. Part of that money could go toward a proposed shared building between RCC and Southern Oregon University that is expected to pass the state Legislature.

We have worked hard to be good stewards of the money voters provided and we will continue to stretch that funding as far and as efficiently as possible, RCC President Peter Angstadt said in a prepared statement announcing the downtown purchase.

At the Table Rock Campus, construction crews will finish work in time for classes to start Sept. 26, said Galyn Carlile, the campus' executive dean.

The bond gave us a chance to have a third campus in an industrial area that's perfect for our industrial programs, he said.

In addition to the bond funds, the project got a &

36;1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and &

36;750,000 from the Portland-based Meyer Memorial Trust.

The 105,000-square-foot building will house the college's manufacturing, electronics, fire science, emergency medical technology, construction, trade apprenticeship and diesel mechanics programs, as well as a work-force training center. It will have a center where students can take care of registration, counseling and financial aid; a library, testing and tutoring center; a bookstore and even an espresso stand.

This is so neat, said Carlile, who has overseen RCC's technical programs for 11 years, through some less-than-perfect fits.

The Jackson County diesel and construction programs were in a leased building on Crater Lake Highway known for sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter. The work-force training center took up cramped quarters at the Veterans Affairs facility in White City and light-industrial programs were at the Riverside Campus. Students at the distant sites had to dash downtown to take English and math classes.

At the Table Rock Campus, students will have plenty of space and all the latest technology, from computer-controlled machining tools to classrooms designed so instructors can broadcast their lectures over the Internet. Already 174 desktop computers and 25 laptops have been delivered for the labs, Carlile said.

Cavernous rooms offer plenty of space for firefighter trainees to store faux buildings, construction students to build playhouses, trade apprentices to learn skills and rookie machinists to pick up manufacturing tips.

There's more space, so it's going to be easier to get to the equipment, said Ian Blaydoe, a Grants Pass student in the manufacturing program who accompanied his instructors this week to the machine shop that is taking shape at the Table Rock Campus. RCC purchases various sites The &

36;4 million purchase includes the college's A Building at 202 S. Riverside Ave., which houses science labs and classrooms; its C Building at 135 S. Bartlett St., which houses community education and work-force training programs; and its H Building at 116 S. Bartlett St., which houses theater arts and physical education classrooms.

They provide a total of 24,000 square feet of space for the college. The parking lots included in the purchase are at the southwest corner of Bartlett and Eighth streets and the northwest corner of Riverside Avenue and Ninth Street.

Alan DeBoer also donated a 15,000-square-foot building known as the B Building at 227 E. Ninth St., where the college now has its bookstore, computer labs, offices and classrooms. Buying the buildings will eliminate annual lease payments of about &

36;187,000, which will be pumped back into academic programs, college officials said.

Construction lights line the hallway outside a classroom at Rogue Community College?s Table Rock Campus, under construction in White City. The technical training center is set to be ready by the time school starts Sept. 26. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven