The Orange Leader’s former building on Front Street has been taken down and will be assisting Lamar State College-Orange nursing students in their education.
LSC-O Foundation purchased the property in 2010 and the college then purchased the land from the Foundation and planned to use the space for classrooms.
A consulting firm declared the building was of no use to the college and it would be best to construct a new building.
“When the Campus Master Plan was put together we did not designate a specific area of study for the building,” Dr. Michael Shahan, president of LSC-O, said. “As we looked at our enrollment growth over the past four years, it became evident that the demand for nursing instruction exceeded the capacity of our existing facilities.”
Currently, nursing students are housed in the Allied Health Building on campus, along with the EMS program and pharmacy technology. Without enough room, many of the nursing classes have had to be scheduled in the Wilson building across campus this semester.
“Recently a student said to me they were so looking forward to coming to class in the Allied Health Building, but was disappointed that their class was in the Wilson building because they wouldn’t be able to be a part of the ‘nursing atmosphere’,” Gina Simar, director of Allied Health, said. “I think the new building will give students that sense of pride and accomplishment that they have arrived to nursing and their hard work is paying off.”
The Orange Leader building was a mainstay to downtown Orange for decades until Hurricane Ike pushed the staff into its new home on Dal Sasso Drive.
“The news of the building come down is bittersweet,” Leader Editor Gabriel Pruett said. “There are a lot of memories with that building. It is where I first started with The Leader. I am very proud though to know Lamar Orange will use it to benefit students in such a great way. We love our new place and that building really served its purpose. Both The Leader and Lamar are coming out with great results out of this decision. We applaud Dr. Shahan and his staff for their continued dedication to educating the students at Lamar State College-Orange.”
Simar says the main thing the new building will provide is room for the nursing students to learn, but all of the new accommodations don’t exactly hurt either. The new building will be equipped with a simulation lab to include two adult rooms, a birthing room, pediatric room and a home setting environment. New equipment will be included to enhance student learning and there will be two five-bed skills labs that will also be for the training of nursing students. In addition, there will be an 80-seat lecture hall, a 60-seat computer room, two 50-seat rooms and a 60-seat classroom.
“I think the new building is going to motivate students and will be a beautiful, up-to-date facility of which we are going to be very proud to be a part of,” said Simar. “The 80-seat lecture hall will allow for all of LSC-O to perhaps sponsor presentations, hold specialized meetings and invite speakers.”
Construction is scheduled to commence on the new building in November and it is hoped that classes can be held in there by fall 2013. The nursing program directors and administrative assistant will be housed in the new building, while most faculty offices will remain in the Allied Health Building. Moving the nursing classes to the new building will allow some of the classrooms in the Allied Health Building to be used for general instruction, as well as continue to comfortably house the EMS and pharmacy technology programs.
According to Shahan, the cost of the new construction will be paid from two sources.
“The campus receives an annual allocation of money from the state’s Higher Education Assistance Fund,” he said. “For several years, LSCO has saved a portion of this money and these savings will pay for almost half of the construction. The remainder will be paid from funds generated through revenue bonds issued by the Texas State University System.”
A LSC-O press release contributed to this story.