Mid Plains launches new digs

Central Nebraska celebrated Friday with the ribbon cutting at a new $1.8 million educational facility in Broken Bow. Custer Campus will now serve as the new home of Mid Plains Extended Campus in Broken Bow. “You want to see how a community grows? You are seeing it here today!” Gov. Dave Heineman told the estimated 400 present for the open house and launching. He tagged Broken Bow as a role model for the entire state, and said that he was going to tell others about what was able to be done. “This is an unbelievable accomplishment for Broken Bow, Custer County and the State of Nebraska. You should be extraordinarily proud of what you’ve accomplished here.” He also talked about the community’s commitment to education. “This is a world class investment, this is a commitment to higher education. A high school education is no longer sufficient. Sometimes students are not sure they can go on and compete successfully. The will find out through this campus they can.” Mid Plains Community College President Dr. Michael Chipps agreed. “Today we stand at the threshold of a new era in growing our college,” he said. “For two years we have been discussing, planning, fund-raising building and now opening this life-changing facility. It will change the local economy.” Dr. Chipps called the Broken Bow facility a poster child for rural education. “It (Custer Campus) will change the way that Broken Bow is viewed by yourselves and those who visit this fine community, and it will change the lives of countless individuals who partake in its educational services. And lastly, we hope this will create a sense of healthy pride that few rural communities across our great nation have the opportunity to experience.” Mid Plains Community College Board of Governor’s Vice Chair Louie Stithem was on hand to give remarks, as were Russ Lane, Bellevue University Senior Director of Community Partnerships and Loren Taylor, Chairman of the4 Custer Economic Development Corporation. Dr. Chipps and Gov. Heineman payed special tribute to those who championed the cause, Don Davis, Marilyn McGinn, Bruce Dowse, RJ Thomas, Jerry Adams, Mac McMeen ... “You folks made this happen,” Chipps remarked. “I fully know what a full court press means because I saw it in action.” The college’s Broken Bow Extended Campus building at Cuter Campus was designed to be a higher education facility where high school students can get a head start on college, working individuals can finish up degrees,a nd those who already hold bachelor’s degrees can continue their advanced degrees. The need for a larger higher education facility at Broken Bow became apparent several years ago when the MPCC Extended Campus literally found itself bursting at the seams. Since its establishment in 2001, the number of classes has grown from three to more than 40 per semester, with more than 200 people taking a course of some kind every semester. In July 2009, Don Davis, Broken Bow Extended Campus Coordinator and other representatives took their concerns to the MPCC Board of Governors. "If MPCC does not find a solution to its facility problem in Broken Bow, it cannot continue to meet the community's growing needs," they stated. The board agreed that there was definitely a need for larger facilities and began considering options for expansion. In June 2010, the Custer Economic Development Corporation announced Custer Campus Inc. and MPCC reached an agreement to join forces in building the college's new extended campus there. What was once envisioned as a single building housing the Broken Bow Extended Campus ultimately developed into a plan to build a seven-acre campus that would be home to MPCC's extended campus and other facilities for public service entities. The land for the new facilities, located on the west edge of Broken Bow along Highway 2, was donated to Custer Campus Inc. from the Broken Bow Industrial Corporation, and the ground for Custer Campus was officially broken in early November. The July completion of the project was right on schedule and the first classes in the building are already taking place. Mid Plains Community College covers an 18 county region in central Nebraska, an area of 25,000 square miles. The college serves as estimated 2,000 people per year. *The content of this article included information from a Press Release written by Denise Sullivan MPCC Area Communications Specialist.