Bids for Paducah regional scheduled for late October

The construction of the new $10 million facility for Murray State’s Paducah Regional Campus is on schedule and is planned to be completed by Dec. 2013.

On Aug. 7, Murray State began the site work construction for the Paducah facility: the clearing of the land, the installation of utilities and accessories and the placement of materials that go into the land around the base of the building, all in preparation for construction to begin.

Kim Oatman, chief facilities officer, said phase one, the site work, is expected to be complete on Nov. 1. Phase two, he said, the building construction, will hopefully begin in December.

The building construction currently is out for bids, with the bid opening date scheduled for Oct. 25.

Murray State has had a campus located in Paducah since 1998, with classes taking place in the Murray State Crisp Center. However, after 14 years, the structure has begun to provide certain limitations, such as space, for students and faculty.

Plans for the extension to the Paducah campus have been circulating for years, the project finally coming to fruition this summer through collaboration between the city of Paducah, Murray State and McCracken County.

The summer was spent getting all the final permits and approvals for the site work, and culminated in a groundbreaking ceremony held May 21 at the location of the new expansion: the Barkley Woods property in Paducah just off of Audubon Drive.

Murray State President Randy Dunn, Board of Regents Chairman Constantine Curris, Paducah Economic Development President Chad Chancellor, Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton, McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry and Gov. Steve Beshear broke ground together and all spoke briefly at the construction site.

Brian Van Horn, dean of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, also attended the ceremony and acted as emcee.

Van Horn said the new facility will provide those who are unable to attend class in Murray, but who still want the strong academic advantages a Murray State education can provide them, with the opportunity to pursue a degree from the University.

He said the majority of students currently pursuing degrees at the Paducah Regional campus, and who will be attending the new facility when it opens, are non-traditional students: single parents, those that work multiple jobs, people who have to take care of elderly relatives, etc.

Van Horn said although he and Murray State administrators want every student to have the opportunity to experience campus life at Murray, but it is not always possible, and so campuses such as the Paducah branch are necessary.

The new building will allow for the much needed growth of the already stifled Paducah campus and its student body.

“Currently, and in the past, we have had to move classes outside of our Paducah Regional Campus due to a lack of educational space,” Van Horn said. “A new facility will allow for future growth and meet the educational needs of our students.”

Upon completion, the building will offer similar courses as to what are currently available at the regional campus and the new facility will continue to offer programs for the completion of both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Van Horn said they are striving to have a student enrollment of 2,000.

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.