Rend Lake College has continued to expand and improve its offerings to students over the years. New programs and new facilities have been created and the existing facilities are constantly being upgraded and renovated, ensuring a better learning environment for students.
None of this is possible without the dedication of the Rend Lake College Physical Plant team. They are the people behind the scenes, quietly keeping RLC’s facilities pristine, functional and up-to-date.
"There have been tremendous improvements in the last eight or nine years," Physical Plant Director Randall Shively said. All of these improvements are consistent with the Physical Plant’s mission statement: "The Physical Plant Department strives to improve the physical condition of the college, to enhance the learning and working environment for the students, staff and public for the purpose of building pride and strength in Rend Lake College."
Shively said the Physical Plant is about one year away from improving every building on campus once. The goal is to start that process over again in 2005.
For example, the South Oasis, a building which houses offices and serves as a recreational area for students, has been upgraded with new floor covering and all 42 offices in the building received new carpet and new coats of paint. New student entertainment, including a pool table, big-screen television and arcade games, also were installed.
The Student Center, which houses several offices, the RLC Retail Store, Textbook Store and food service facilities, also has undergone extensive renovation. Most notably, a Subway restaurant has been installed.
On the campus’ south side, a new driving range has been installed and has undergone continuous improvements since it was built two years ago. It features a 180-feet-by-60-feet tee box with Bermuda grass and a sprinkler system.
In addition to the construction of The Hitting Zone, a baseball practice facility, the RLC baseball field has received a sprinkler system and Bermuda grass. The softball field also has seen recent improvements for the primary benefit of the spectators.
Shively said the maintenance staff presently is making improvements to 9,000 square feet in the Advanced Technology Center, including the installation of ceramic tile to match that installed in the Student Center. The ATC offices are receiving the same treatment given to those in the recent renovation of the South Oasis, and new signage is being installed to help students better locate offices and classrooms.
The Physical Plant is not resting on its laurels, however. At present, local contractors are installing six new external emergency call boxes to improve the security aspect of campus. These new phones are being installed around the perimeter of campus and should be completed by May.
In the last four years, major improvements have occurred in the area of sidewalk lighting. A local contractor is now installing additional lighting near the Advanced Technology Center and the Maintenance Building. All lighting in the parking lots and campus roadways has been upgraded to provide brighter illumination for students.
Rend Lake College now has a severe weather siren which will be tested on the first Tuesday of each month. All students and staff need to be aware of where safer areas are within their buildings, Shively said.
"We’ve completed several projects in the last few years," Shively said. "We have a frame of mind focused on a continuous state of improvement."
Among future projects is an upgrade to the Independence One-Room Schoolhouse on the north side of campus. Shively said this building will be made more user-friendly with the installation of improved parking, sidewalks and restrooms.
In the next two to three years, landscaping work will be done to improve the north and west areas of the Vocational Building near the campus’ north entrance and around the Administration Building at the south entrance. This will improve the aesthetics of the main entrances to campus, Shively said.
Plans also call for a putting green to be installed for use by the golf teams, students and staff.
In addition, plans are in place for a new Career and Applied Technology Center which will allow Rend Lake College to expand its Heavy Equipment Technology, Diesel Technology, Agricultural Business and Agricultural Mechanics programs. Earthwork already has begun at the site, located on the campus’ southwest side. This new facility will encompass 22,300 square feet and will include a parking lot containing 274 spaces.
The Physical Plant also takes care of routine maintenance, including lawn care, landscaping and custodial work.
Shively said he believes a strength of the department includes employees with experience in a variety of fields who strive to maintain quality workmanship. He said the Physical Plant has solid leadership and benefits from a positive attitude from the administration of the college on funding new projects and purchasing equipment and supplies.
"This has all been done for the benefit of the students. That is our top priority," said Shively.