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Architect hired for LTC pool project

Contract approved for new LTC president

Posted on April 28, 2021

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Hiring an architectural firm to draw up plans for renovations to the Lincoln Trail College natatorium is step one toward construction of the long-awaited Crawford County Recreation Center.

The Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Board Tuesday approved a contract with Sandra Walk of Walk Architecture, Effingham, for improvements to the pool area.

The planned $400,000 project, according to IECC Chancellor Ryan Gower, is being done with the eventual construction of the recreation center in mind.

“That’s still very much on target,” Gower said.

The natatorium will be an important part of the rec center. In preparation for that, plans call for renovations that will make its use more inviting to the community.

“We understand the pool is a valuable asset for all of Crawford County,” Gower said. “We want to do everything we can to ensure it stays available for public use.”

Among the planned renovations are the construction of a party room and a pair of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant changing areas with individual showers and toilets.

There will also be a dedicated change room for community members who use the pool for activities such as water aerobics. Currently, LTC athletes use the same areas as swimmers. The new area will eliminate conflicts.

Use of the natatorium dive tank has been limited since the high dive was removed several years ago. That will change with the addition of a water slide. A climbing wall will also be installed by the tank.

This will give the community a place to enjoy aquatic fun during the months Pelican Cove is closed, Gower said.

The project genesis dates back to 2019 when then State Sen. Dale Righter began working as an advocate for the LTC technology center. Righter discovered a Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant program that provided $400,000 for improving the natatorium.

This is the second major project for the building. Heating and air-handling systems already have undergone a $300,000 improvement.

Gower said Walk has worked on the renovations of the Zwermann Arts Center Theater and is already familiar with the LTC campus. He hopes IECC will be able to go out for natatorium bids in the next 60 days. Construction should be “well under way” in the next 12 months.

In a related matter, the board accepted a bid of almost $1.8 million from Central State Construction for HVAC work on various district buildings.

Also Tuesday, trustees officially approved a contract for Zahi Atallah, the new LTC president.

Atallah was hired as the college’s 11th president in March and starts here July 1.

From Sun Prairie, Wis., he earned his Ph.D. in plant pathology from Washington State University and spent the early part of his career in higher education working in plant pathology at Washington State, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California Davis.

It was at UC-Davis where Atallah was first introduced to community colleges. He quickly fell in love with the community college mission.

Atallah also is the founder of IncludED Consultants, an educational consulting firm that works to enhance student success, increase access to students with differing abilities and backgrounds and provides classroom student support.

New contracts also were approved for Chancellor Ryan Gower, Frontier Community College President Jay Edgren, Olney Central College President Rodney Ranes and Wabash Valley College President Matthew Fowler.

In other personnel matters, employment was approved for LTC advisor Tyson Murray and LTC information systems technician Shawn Poindexter, effective immediately. Trustees also hired Workforce Education instructors Joshua Hoffert and Stephen Murray, effective May 1.

The resignation of LTC head men’s basketball coach Luke Stuckey was approved. It takes effect May 29.

Retirement was approved for LTC professor Winifred Wolven, effective May 15, and for Rickey Lamb, Workforce Education instructor, effective June 1.

Meanwhile, activity fee allocations for 2021-22 were approved for the for IECC campuses.

The board adopts the allocation of student activity fees at the colleges each year. The allocation notes what percentage of each dollar will be turned over to an appropriate self-balancing account in the auxiliary fund.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved 11 articulation agreements between IECC and McKendree University, Lebanon. These agreements facilitate the smooth transfer from IECC’s programs to the universities’ programs.
  • Approved affiliation agreements were approved with Providence Family Practice for LTC’s Certified Medical Assistant Program and with St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital for FCC’s Medical Lab Technician Program.
  • Accepted a $58,710 bid from Brightspark Travel for the TRIO Upward Bound Student Trip for 2021.
  • Clarified individual student graduation requirements with a new district policy.
  • Adopted the SURS Deferred Compensation Plan. This plan is employee funded and provides another investment option for eligible employees.
  • Instituted a lab fee of $120 was approved for the Unmanned Aerial Systems Program.

The next regular board meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, at FCC, Fairfield.

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