Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

September 24, 2013

Groundbreaking: New additions will be suite-style student residences

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE —

Work on new student residences can begin as soon as Jacksonville College gets the green-light from city officials, and college president Dr. Mike Smith couldn't be any happier.

“There's just been a lot of excitement (about the project) – the students, the alumni, the staff … we're all just excited about the school's continuing growth and improvement,” he said.

On Saturday, officials were on hand at a ground breaking ceremony for a project that calls for three new student residence halls.

Each building is approximately 4,200 square feet in size and will house 20 students in suite-style living quarters, Smith said.

“Each suite will have four private bedrooms that share a living area and a bathroom,” he explained, adding that at this time, no plans have been made to set aside a certain number of suites for male and female students.

“Our enrollment actually will determine” the housing set-up, he said.

“Last year, we had more boys than girls, and this year it was more girls than boys, so it changes from year to year.”

The price tag for three-building project is estimated at $500,000, with volunteer labor keeping costs down.

“We're using volunteer labor from the church – there is a group from the BMA called Master Builders, and the Baptist Men” also will work on the project, Smith said. “We'll be raising funds, and as we receive them, we will (construct and complete) one building at a time.”

Enrollment this year is 526, with 130 students living on campus.

The residences are the first new major building project at Jacksonville College, a Baptist Missionary Association of Texas school whose roots date back to 1899, when a group of Baptist men eager to bring a college to the area formed “The East Texas Educational Society” and applied for a charter for the proposed Jacksonville College on June 10, 1899, according to the school's website.

To meet the needs of a growing student population that chooses to live on campus, the school has been renovating homes that were either donated or purchased near the campus.

The new residence halls will be located at 330 Kickapoo Street, behind Norman Library and next to the college’s historic two-story Newburn-Rawlinson house.

Goodwin-Lasiter Architects of Lufkin designed the structures, which could be completed in time for students to set up residence next August, Smith said.