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062818 SCSU groundbreaking

South Carolina State University officials and board members, along with kids from the Smart Academy youth program, break ground Wednesday for a new 1890 Research and Extension Community Center.

South Carolina State University broke ground Wednesday on a new, $2.7 million building designed to help it take services into the Orangeburg area and surrounding communities.

The new 1890 Research and Extension Community Center will be used for community classes, as well as office space.

“Not only will it be a functional building but symbolic of our continued outreach to the community,” S.C. State President James Clark said.

The 13,750-square-foot building is scheduled to open in April 2019, 1890 Research and Extension Director Delbert Foster said. The construction site is located behind the present 1890 building on Goff Avenue.

It’s the first new construction in many years, Clark said. More will follow.

Three years ago, Clark was a member of the temporary S.C. State Board of Trustees, which was tasked with tackling the school’s considerable issues at the time. He was later named president.

Clark said he previously had to say “no” to the 1890 project and others.

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“A lot of positive things have happened, though, since then, a lot of getting the proverbial ox out of the ditch and getting us on the road to a much bigger and brighter and better and more successful S.C. State,” he said.

The building will be paid for with grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture 1890 Facility Grant Program, Clark said.

“It’s being paid for not by state funds and it’s not taking any tuition dollars or anything,” he said.

The building will be used for community outreach and special programs to reach youth, he said. It will house administrative and programmatic offices and classrooms for lifelong learning non-credit and informal community classes.

The facility is meant help 1890 enhance and expand its program offerings and delivery of extension activities and services.

“The Department of Agriculture focuses a lot on food and nutrition and health and wellness, especially of members of the community, as well as understanding what the needs and requirements are of farmers,” Clark said.

“And we’re in a rural area, so it’s very, very critical as part of our extension, as part of our outreach and part of who we are as a university,” he said.

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Contact the writer: chuff@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5543.

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