PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. – Rend Lake College and its Foundation broke ground today on an expansion to the college’s Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus. The addition of a science laboratory and computer center – expected to be complete when classes begin in August – will make it possible for RLC to offer students a complete degree program from the satellite campus.
Funded entirely through outside contributions, the project is truly an investment in the community, by the community. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the contributors for this building,” RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern said.
“The expansion we are celebrating today is because of some of the citizens of Pinckneyville who have chosen to give their time, share their resources and invest in the future of so many,” said the city’s mayor, Joe Holder.
RLC President Charley D. Holstein told the crowd that the ceremony not only initiates the construction phase of a project started more than a year ago, but ushers in an era of increased opportunity for the future of Pinckneyville.
“I think it’s important to understand why we are here – opportunity, students, and what additions like this and campuses like this do for the community,” Holstein said.
The project started in February of last year when retired Pinckneyville physician Dr. Gene Stotlar challenged his fellow members on the Foundation Board of Directors at his final meeting with them. He challenged them to do more with the satellite campus by making it possible for students to complete all the required classes toward a baccalaureate-transferring associate degree from RLC.
But with the uncertain status of state funding for higher education, the college was not in a position financially to make funds available for new brick and mortar, Holstein explained.
“That was addressed with the Foundation Board from the beginning, “ he said. “It was just amazing to sit back and watch really good leaders go out into the community and ... make people understand what this would do to provide opportunities for their community. ... Then, at the end of the day when the bids came in and it seemed like we were going to be short on funds, we went back to the Foundation Board and through their generosity they made funds available to ensure that the construction that will take place here ... and those opportunities ... wouldn’t be side-railed.”
Holstein said students are already beginning to sign up for the new classes. Currently, students must take science lab classes at the main campus in Ina.
“We owe it to them to get busy ... and get this built,” Holstein added.
“I’m going to show my gratitude by being one of the first people to sign up for classes,” said Josh Lowe, a 2010 Pinckneyville High School graduate now in his second semester at the RLC Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus. Lowe said he attends the campus five days a week and cannot make the 74-mile, round-trip to Ina for science classes toward his degree.
“You’re not just building a science lab,” he said to the audience this morning. “It’s not just bricks and mortar. You’re building a path for the youth of this community ... that leads to success. On behalf of the youth of this community, I’d like say thank you. Thank you for providing us with tools and the opportunity to succeed.”
When the project was first considered, the science lab, computer center and break area was estimated at $500,000. The computer center and break area were trimmed from the project, bringing the cost down to $400,000. However, at the RLC Foundation’s Annual Dinner last December, Kern announced that, dovetailing on the high levels of support shown by Pinckneyville residents, the Foundation would borrow the remaining $100,000 to complete the project as it was originally conceived.
Greg Hollmann, a science associate professor at the college, said today that “Ground breaking is a celebration of RLC connecting with one of its communities. At Rend Lake College, it’s the people of our community that bind us and give us our connectedness.”
Contributors who made this connection possible include Peabody Coal, Dr. Gene and Ramona Stotlar, Bill Crawford, the Engelhardt Family Foundation, Murphy-Wall State Bank, David and Nancy Bigham, David and Deborah Crawford, Phyllis E. Crawford, Virginia Mason, Dr. Bill and Mary Roe, Janet Schwartz, Thomas A. Denton Jr., Rick and Cindy Luke, Mary Pericolosi, Perry County Market Place, Kevin Pyatt, Chad and Cheri Rushing, Seibert and Bigham, Roger Seibert, T.D.S. Services Inc. - Tina Short, Stotlar Drug Company Inc., Bonnie Tolbert, Heather Bauersachs, Jack Davis, Roger and Linda Denton, Peg Doughty, Salle Hasse, Paul and Christina Kuberski, Robert Marlow, McDaniel Metals Inc., Perry Pointe Development LLC, Pinckneyville Hardware Inc., Gayl Pyatt, Virginia Richart, Eunice Ritter, Dean Smith, Walgreens Distribution, James A. Wittenauer, Marty and Susan Davis, Clayton Emling, Wilma Guy, Dr. Wayne Hawkins, Tom Hudgins, Larry J. Pfau, Shamrock Real Estate, the State Farm Foundation and Joann Templeton.
“It was not too difficult because we had a lot of people who believe in this project,” Dr. Gene Stotlar said of raising funds for the expansion. “... Our country and our well-being is centered on education. If you don’t have education you are kind of going to be out of luck. We are blessed that kids are wanting to get an education and further blessed that Rend Lake is in on it. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen right here.”
Members of the Rend Lake College Foundation Board of Directors are:
James L. “Jim” Kelly (Sesser) - Chair
Mark Ballard (Mt. Vernon) - Secretary
JoAnn Joy (Mt. Vernon) - Treasurer
Pat Kern - RLC Foundation CEO
Charley D. Holstein - Rend Lake College President
Mary Ellen Aiken (Benton)
Steven Beal (Mt. Vernon)
Hunt Bonan (Mt. Vernon)
Robert Bornheimer (Trenton)
Bill Bush (Mt. Vernon)
Millie Caldwell (Christopher)
Leo F. Childers Jr. (Mt. Vernon)
Ed Cunningham (Mt. Vernon)
Matthew Flanigan (Mt. Vernon)
Brad Gesell (Benton)
Mark S. Kern (Ewing) - Member Emeritus
Dr. Robert J. Parks (Mt. Vernon)
Howard L. Payne (Benton) - Member Emeritus
Mary Pericolosi (Pinckneyville)
Dr. Warren Petty (Benton)
Kevin Pyatt (Pinckneyville)
Kevin Pyle (Hamilton County)
Dr. Charles W. Roe (Pinckneyville)
Steve Rowland (Christopher)
Randy Rubenacker (McLeansboro)
Greg Sims (Mt. Vernon)
George Slankard (Sesser)
Rich Yunkus (Benton)