WEST FRANKFORT – The day the doors opened earlier this year at John A. Logan College’s new West Frankfort Extension Center, educators were filling 220 seats.
That’s up from 142 seats last fall when the center was located at a different, smaller location that was hard to find and limited what classes could be offered there, center Coordinator Beth Porritt said.
“We’ve increased just by moving here,” Porritt said. “I expect it to go higher.”
One major selling point to prospective students might be that for the first time ever, students will be able to get their associate’s degree there rather than travelling to the college’s Carterville campus, officials said.
The new center, 19 West Frankfort Plaza near Interstate 57 and Illinois 149 opened July 28.
On Tuesday, college officials, city and county representatives and others attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially welcome the center into the college’s roster of facilities and into the community.
“I’m just so thankful that John A. (College) chose to continue their partnership with the city of West Frankfort,” Mayor Tom Jordan said.
“It means a lot for our students.”
Investing $1.2 million into what was the home of Southern Illinois Surgical Supply, the 10,600 square-foot building doubles the space the center had at its former location in a mall and is a significant upgrade from its first home in 1996, former Orient Mine property, said Brad McCormick, vice president of Business Services and College Facilities
The cost of the building includes purchasing and renovations and is less than what the college would likely have spent had it built new, McCormick said.
“It now includes a lab, that was the critical piece,” McCormick said.
“Up to this point we could teach no science classes and that made it impossible to get an associate degree (at the center.)”
College trustees voted last year to purchase the building to incorporate needed upgrades, Trustee Mike Hopkins of West Frankfort said.
“Today the partnership between John A. Logan College and the city of West Frankfort takes yet another step forward further strengthening our relationship that will continue for many years into the future,” Hopkins said.