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Bank helps college reach fundraising halfway point

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Paducah Bank announced a donation that has pushed West Kentucky Community & Technical College to the halfway point of its fundraising goal to bring an entire arts campus to Lower Town.

Paducah Bank pledged $150,000 for the final phase of the Paducah School of Art and Design. The pledge allowed the school to reach $1 million of the $2 million goal. The Paducah School of Art and Design's enrollment has tripled from 160 students in 2008 to 425 last fall.

"It's great day for the Paducah School of Art and Design, Paducah and for the entire region," WKCTC President Barbara Veazey said. "We know what the arts mean to this community. We want Paducah to be an arts destination and art to be a way of life for this community."

Paducah Bank officials emphasized the business' history of supporting education in the region, including contributions to the WKCTC Challenger Learning Center and the new Murray State regional campus.

Paducah Bank President Mardie Herndon said, "We are so pleased to be at the corner of Madison and Ninth streets and what will be the corner of arts and education."

Joe Framptom, Paducah Bank CEO, said one of the joys and obligations of the role of a local bank is to give back through community projects.

"It gives us great joy to support this endeavor and see this project become a reality," he said.

The final phase of the new campus includes the renovation of the nearly 30,000-square foot Kitchens Inc. building at 905 Harrison St., which will house two-dimensional art programs including painting, drawing, digital photography and graphic design. Work to the Kitchens building would complete the school's Lower Town location which also includes Madison Hall and the sculpture building set to open this fall.

The project will cost $10 million with 25 percent or $2.5 million matched from the local community. College officials launched the bid to raise local funds in October, which was kicked off with a $500,000 gift from the Paducah Junior College Inc. board.

WKCTC is waiting for passage of the state budget that includes 75 percent or $7.5 million in funding for the project. The measure made it through the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives early last week and awaits Gov. Steve Beshear's signature.

The school has invested $50,000 so far in design fees and engineering evaluations. Veazey said this work allows the school to be ready to begin construction as soon as funds are assured.

She said the gift from Paducah Bank has pushed the effort into the final larger community campaign. She stressed the importance of a community-wide effort for the college to take a pivotal next step forward.

"We have been aggressive and optimistic the entire time, but seeing us get half the money shows people that this is a priority and everyone is working to make it happen," she said.

If the college remains on the current timeline, renovations could begin by July with the goal of being ready for students by fall 2015.

Individual pledges can be made over a five-year period. For more information, contact Ashley Wright, WKCTC vice president of institutional advancement, at 270-534-3084 or visit www.supportpsad.org.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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