By Casey Tolliver

An Eastern satellite campus currently located in a shopping center will soon be moving into its very own state-of-the art building.Construction of the EKU Manchester campus building began nearly two years ago, and should be finished early next year. But the new construction will result in much more than a fancy-looking building, EKU Manchester Campus Director Terry Gray said.

“The lifelong learning opportunities that this building will bring to the community will be infinite and far-reaching, for our county and the entire service region,” Gray said.

The new facility, which will encompass nearly 46,000 square feet, will consist of three floors and house a computer lab, science labs, numerous classrooms, five ITV rooms and 17 offices.

The building will also feature a bookstore and a multipurpose space that covers nearly 5,000 square feet, according to the EKU Manchester Web site.

The campus, which is currently located in the Manchester Square Shopping Center, has 15 classrooms. Once construction is finished, the new building will feature 24 classrooms.

Gray said the new edifice will provide convenience by offering a variety of services under one roof.

“It will kind of be your one-stop location if you want to improve yourself,” Gray said. “It may not be like anything in Richmond.”

The facility will lead to the expansion of multiple post-secondary learning possibilities for students at the satellite campus, Gray said.

A degree in general studies is the only four-year degree currently offered at the Manchester campus, but with the new building comes a new opportunity for the extended campus to expand on its curriculum.

“We are developing comprehensive programs and rotations,” Gray said.

“We want to focus on the ones more unique to the area. Education and nursing are the two leading employers around here and they are the two areas that we want to focus on.”

The new facility, which is scheduled to be finished during the spring of 2009, may be finished as early as this winter.

“The building is about 80 percent complete,” Gray said. “The contract extends until April, but they probably will finish in January.”

The current campus building features a fully equipped computer lab, as well as a resource room that is able to link Manchester students with the Crabbe Library in Richmond.

The Manchester campus, which first opened in 1992, offers more than 90 classes to nearly 300 students each semester.

The campus caters mostly to students who live at home and have full or part-time jobs, and attracts a wide variety of students, including traditional college-aged students, as well as working professionals and senior citizens, according to the EKU Manchester Web site.

EKU Manchester serves students from Clay, Bell, Laurel, Owsley, Perry, Knox, Jackson and Leslie counties as well as the surrounding area.

Gray believes the new facility will give the extended campus an opportunity to not only serve the students, but all of the citizens in the area.

“The folks in the county are ready for this project to boost the community,” Gray said.

“Some of the poorest counties in the nation are in this region. We are going to be a beacon of light not only for this county, but for all of the surrounding counties.