MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 4, 2011

Bacone begins expansion, remodeling of Northpointe Shopping Center

Bacone College has begun an expansion project that is so large, it would typically take 10 years to complete, said the college President Rev. Dr. Robert J. Duncan Jr.

However, the college hopes to have most of the work complete by the end of the spring 2012 semester, he said.

“This is a huge set of leapfrogs that will just transform the campus,” Duncan said.

Much of the project will benefit the community in some way, he said — including potentially bringing new business to the area, indoor athletic fields and much more.

The college recently purchased Northpointe Shopping Center on the corner of York Street and Shawnee Bypass.

All of the existing businesses will remain, and Bacone has plans for the space where Walmart and Boy Howdy used to be. At least one food vendor has shown interest in building a facility in the parking lot as well, Duncan said.

A new library, funded by a legacy donation of more than $600,000 from the Betts family through the Daughters of the American Revolution, will occupy half of the former Boy Howdy store.

The new space will be twice as large and include about 60,000 general collection volumes.

Most importantly for scholars is the Native American collections Bacone College possesses will now be more accessible, said Robert K. Brown, executive vice president and dean of faculty.

The collection is housed in a basement room under the existing library.

It will be moved upstairs into the old library and an exhibit gallery will be built in the basement room in conjunction with Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum, Brown said.

The school plans to name the library in honor of the Betts family and to bestow honorary names on six more areas if legacy gifts are received in the future, said Eugene Blankenship, assistant vice president of institutional advancement.

The other half of the former Boy Howdy store will be a new welcome center that includes the registrar, admissions, financial aid and other offices.

“It will be a one-stop place for potential students, families and existing students,” said Robert K. Brown, executive vice president and dean of faculty.

Admissions, financial aid, registrar and other offices are now located at Walter Starr Hall, which was originally a dorm at Bacone College.

After those offices are moved to the new facility, 30 dorm rooms will be added at Walter Starr, Duncan said. Housing and Student Life offices located in the Bacone Inn and Conference Center will be moved to the new facilities.

That move will leave room for more student housing at the conference center.

The old Warrior Gym, where athletic offices and facilities are now located, will become the Center for American Indians, Duncan said.

The old Walmart building is about 95,000 square feet, allowing the school to have a multitude of offices and student areas.

Three indoor athletic practice fields will be built inside the old Walmart as well, said Shelli Hopkins, assistant vice president of Student Life.

However, the fields will be available year-round, despite any bad weather, and the college hopes to see youth league sports utilizing them.

“Part of the NAIA mission is to encourage athletes to mentor with youth athletic programs,” Duncan said about the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. “This center will be a great way we can do that.”

In addition to the athletic facilities, the space also will be used for all Student Life offices and Student Senate offices as well as an intern lab, Hopkins said.

A small grab-and-go snack bar on one end, an information desk, pool tables and video games have been allotted space.

An athletic weight room, exercise area for students and walking track also will be included.

Inside the entrance will be the Bacone College Bookstore, which Hopkins said will become a large, retail space and the mail room. The college’s print shop will be relocated to the old Walmart building as well.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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