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Higher Ed Center readying for ribbon

DEMOPOLIS – The long-awaited official ribbon cutting at the Austin A. Caldwell Higher Education Center is at hand.

Officials from the city, Alabama Southern College and others are planning the ceremony for Tuesday, Oct. 12, said ASC Campus Director Arthur Ogden.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m., marking the official opening for the community college’s Demopolis home.

Classes are schedule to begin in the new campus Oct. 12 as well.

“We’re exited classes are going to begin Tuesday. The students have been anxious to get into the new facility, the faculty has been anxious to get into the new facility,” Ogden said.

“We are very grateful to people of Demopolis who made a commitment to allow this facility to exist and who made this facility possible,” he said.

The building, recently named for Demopolis’ former four-plus term mayor Austin Caldwell by the city council, will also serve as a base of operations for the University of West Alabama which will be offering traditional and on-line courses at the center.

Mark Pettus, the city’s parks and recreation department director has headed up the building project, located in the Demopolis Sports-Plex.

At a cost of nearly $1.9 million, Pettus said the project was close to the $1.75 million originally slated for the construction of the building.

“There were some hidden costs we hadn’t thought about,” he said.

Those costs, like architectural fees and engineering fees drove the costs up slightly, but

Pettus said ACS had stepped up to the plate.

“ACS is becoming a realistic dollar partner,” he said, ” they’re investing in our city just like we are.”

Part of that investment is splitting the unforeseen expenses with the city, and the college is providing funding for furniture and some modifications to the original plan for the facility.

Pettus said the investment was well worth money.

“This has the opportunity to be huge for us – all we need are local kids to use it,” he said. “A college town has potential and this is our step in that door.”