Extended campus on schedule

Despite inclement weather, construction is on schedule for the new 43,000-square-foot Paducah (Ky.) Regional Campus.

Construction of the new regional campus began in December and, since then, the concrete foundation for the building has been laid and contractors are in the process of erecting the structural steel body.

Prior to construction, the Paducah-based company Central Paving Co. completed much of the site work for the new facility, which included grading both the future site of the new structure and its parking lots, the creation of an entrance road and the installation of utilities.

Kim Oatman, chief facilities officer of Facilities Management, said the approximately $10 million new campus is now about 12 percent complete.

“The weather has caused some delays, but the contractor has been able to make up for lost time on the bad days,” he said.  “The project is still on schedule.”

Oatman said the contractor, A & K Construction, who were also7 responsible for the design and construction of Murray State’s J. Jones Chemistry Building and the Jesse L. Jones Family Clock Tower, have a lot of work left to do.

“By mid-May, we hope to have the trusses on and the roof installed, plus the exterior sheathing completed,” he said.  “By late-May, the windows should be installed, so the building should be dried-in. We should also be well under way with the interior framing and installation of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and communications systems.”

He said the project is solely in the hands of A & K Construction until the weather dries up in the summer and Central Paving Co., can finish their contract by regrading and reseeding anything that eroded during the winter.

Oatman said he is very pleased with the work finished so far.

The construction is featured on the Murray State website, where a recently installed webcam is streaming the work site live.

Brian Van Horn, dean of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, said the new regional campus once completed will benefit Murray State and especially nontraditional students.

“The regional campuses, by mission and design, are offered and built to make access to a Murray State education possible for those who can’t travel or move to Murray,” Van Horn said. “A new campus in Paducah will provide more access to nontraditional students and students who are not able to attend Murray State in Murray.”

He said the new facility isn’t designed for traditional-age students.

The building that currently houses Murray State’s regional campus in Paducah – the Crisp Regional Higher Education Center – opened in 1998 and was a former soda bottling factory. Murray State purchased the building from the University of Kentucky.

President Randy Dunn stressed the importance of the campus in his State of the University address in 2007.

Murray State was only able to realize this venture – the construction of a new facility – through the help of McCracken County, who bonded the new building to pay for it, and through additional financial support by the city of Paducah.

Normally, the majority of Murray State’s funds for building projects would come from the state, but due to the economic downturn, fewer funds were made available to the University

Van Horn said he hopes the new facility will help foster a stronger relationship between Murray State and West Kentucky Community and Technical College, which is located across Interstate 24 opposite the developing facility and give Murray State a chance to offer more degree programs in Paducah.

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.