November 26, 2011
In a change of plans that few people minded, the Austin Community College groundbreaking ceremony was held at the SPJST Hall on SH 95 on Tuesday, rather than at the site of the soon-to-be constructed Elgin campus.
The venue was changed thanks to a welcome rainstorm. A patch of soil was transferred from the campus site to the floor of the SPJST hall for the groundbreaking.
“This is a very momentous occasion for Elgin and ACC,” said Elgin Mayor Marc Holm. “There is a lot of merit to education. It is the most important thing you can have in your life. It can give you a sense of purpose, make you smarter, more tolerant. It can open worlds and open doors.”
Elgin resident Estrellita Carlos told how ACC has been helping her achieve her goals. She is a mother of three boys, a full-time medical assistant, and is studying to become a Registered Nurse. “ACC has made it possible, with their flexible schedule, especially with their presence in Austin, for me to graduate and become an RN.”
“Five years ago, who would have thought we would have a college campus here in Elgin?” said David Glass, who helped organize the movement to bring ACC to Elgin. He thanked supporters for helping make the ACC campus a reality. “Most of all, I want to thank the voters. You sent a message about our community. This is the economic spark Elgin has needed for a long time.”
“Yeehaw!” said Dr. Barbara Mink, chair of the ACC board of directors. “Not only are we here in Elgin, but it’s raining.” Mink said the ACC system now has 45,000 students and will soon have 10 full service campuses. Elgin is campus number nine and will have special agriculture and vet-tech courses.
Dr. Richard Rhodes, president and CEO of ACC, complimented Elginites for voting to join the college’s taxing district paving the way for the new campus. “The passion and collaborative spirit in Elgin is like no other place,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of this.” He thanked the local organizers who helped make the college possible, as well as the Neidig family, on whose land the new campus will be built.
“This is an investment in our future that will benefit the entire region,” Rhodes said. “This campus will be a primary trainer for the local work force.”
Rhodes said the college will work with the local business community to design a program that works for them and local materials will be used whenever possible to build the facility. “We want you to be proud of it.”
He said Elgin has already been taking advantage of the fact that the town is now in the ACC taxing district, which lowers tuition for local students. There has been a60 percent increase in the number of Elgin students attending ACC over the past year. The new campus is set to open in less than two years.
State Senator Kirk Watson said the new ACC campus would be “an idea factory and a factory of hope.”