Marion council considers future of Bown-Corby

The Bown-Corby building, formerly an elementary school in Marion, has served as the home for Butler Community College?s program since it began. With BCC moving to the school district?s Hill building, the city council is exploring other options for the city-owned structure.After learning Butler Community College plans to vacate the Bown-Corby building Aug. 1, the Marion City Council at its meeting June 9 started exploring options of how the property can continue being used.

The Bown-Corby building at 412 N. Second St., officials said, four blocks north of Main Street, once served as the elementary school.
City Administrator Roger Holter said he was notified about BCC?s plans to sever its contract with the city in a letter dated June 2 from Kimberly Krull, BCC president at El Dorado.
?They have paid their obligations (on the facility) through the end of this year,? Holter said, ?and have paid for insurance on the building and the annual lease fee.?
In her letter, Krull said Amy Kjellin, site director in Marion, and Meg McGranaghan, associate vice-president of academics, identified a new location with Lee Leiker, superintendent of Marion Public Schools.
Krull said BCC will use ?some very functional space at the Marion High School Hill Building,? 701 E. Main St.
Kjellin added that the Hill building has offices formerly occupied by the superintendent?s office and, more recently, by special education.
?Since the Cooperative for Special Education has relocated to Hillsboro, the space has been empty for the past school year,? she said.

The area will include two office spaces on the first floor and BCC will also have access to one or two classrooms that will be for BCC classes with more classes in the building if needed for night classes.
?We are still offering the same number of courses each semester and will be able to connect with the Council Grove site for IDL courses,? Kjellin said.

In addition, the new location will also include an Allied Health classroom with all equipment to hold CNA and CMA training.
Future of vacated site

Councilor Chad Adkins said he wondered if any plans for the building?s future were in the works.
What is important, Adkins said, is making sure the Bown-Corby property doesn?t suffer the same fate of school buildings in other towns around the county.
?Seeing awesome buildings (in neighboring communities) that are just trash holes now, totally rotted away and fallen apart,? he said is why he wanted to know if there is a plan.
?I did not assume that?s the approach we would take, but I wondered if we had any plans (for the building).?
Holter said the city is open to suggestions, and Terry Jones, economic development director is ?basically trying to make lemonade.?
The Bown-Corby building, he added, has no outstanding debt, other than operational expenses.
Councilor Jerry Dieter asked if the building could be used for offices.
One idea in working with economic development, Holter said, is to create an incubator zone for business.
Jones said: ?It is a tremendous facility and we could promote it through Marion Economic Development Inc. for local entrepreneurship.?
Another possibility, he said, is to use the building to serve the adult or non-traditional education community, he said, similar to the programs in Wichita and Hillsboro.
Holter said that utility supervisors notified his office June 9 that in a worst-case scenario, if the building isn?t used, we will ?semi-mothball? it to cut down on the costs.
?But, taking it out of service would create maintenance issues as we move forward.?

Grateful to Marion

Kjellin said BCC is grateful for all the city of Marion has done to support the Bown-Corby site.
?As budgetary considerations have required a relocation, our priority is for (the college) to continue as a great resource to the community,? she said.
?We hope this new location will enable us to continue to serve non-traditional high school and transfer students in this area.?

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