BY KATIE SCOVILLE
Pen City Current
FORT MADISON – As you cruise down Avenue G, you see familiar buildings such as Fox Theater, The Colony Shop, and Under the Sun. But near the end of downtown, something unfamiliar has finally unveiled itself: the former Car Smart building has been transformed and the SCC logo now adorns the building.
Plans to transform the former CarSmart building began about a year ago. Due to multiple grants and the Shottenkirk family gifting the building, the plan to transform the building was put in motion and Southeastern Community College committed $500,000 to the renovation.
Flash forward to present day and the remodeling is complete and currently awaiting furnishing.
SCC President Dr. Michael Ash anticipates operations beginning after August 1st and perhaps an official ribbon-cutting ceremony during September or early October (COVID-19 conditions allowing).
“I’m excited for the completion of the building and hopeful that citizens will take advantage of the building, learning different skills. I hope people see this as a benefit to the community,” Dr. Ash said.
Equipped with 3 large classroom-sized spaces and a spacious conference room, the new building will offer functions to tailor to many citizens’ needs.
“High school equivalency tests can be taken here. It’ll also be a center of business and industry for non-credit courses as well as training in those fields,” Dr. Ash said.
“The building also offers nursing students a more convenient location to meet with clinical providers instead of traveling to Burlington or Keokuk.”
The building may also offer classes that citizens can take advantage of.
“We hope to offer life-long learning classes such as bird watching, painting, or computer science,” Ash said,
Other parties are also looking to offer classes and other programs.
“There is a potential to offer counseling programs in the evening,” Ash said. “We’re also open to other area schools and businesses that might want to do classes or training.”
The building’s opening comes just as local business, education and industry leaders begin to put together plans for a Joint Education Center in the former KL Megla building on the west side of Hwy. 61 near Montrose.
The education center will share similar functions.
“We’ve already begun working with schools and businesses for how that building will be utilized,” Ash said.
“It will be primarily focused on high school students who are going into the technical field.”
SCC has applied for two grants and is hoping to hear back in mid-August, but other timelines on the project are still up in the air.