MPCC Broken Bow Campus Celebrates 20 Years

Mid-Plains Community College has been honored for 20 years of service to Broken Bow and the surrounding area. The recognition came Saturday during the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet.

“We always appreciate the support of the Broken Bow Chamber,” said Gail Knott, MPCC area associate dean of outreach. “Broken Bow is a strong, vibrant, forward-thinking community, and the Chamber has been an integral part of not just the community’s growth, but also that of the Broken Bow Campus. MPCC values the relationship it has with the Chamber and looks forward to many more years of membership.”

The Early Days

The MPCC Broken Bow Campus has seen a lot of progress over the past two decades.

Mid-Plains had only been offering two to six classes per semester in Broken Bow and the surrounding communities prior to the establishment of the campus in 2001.

The “campus” was essentially a 10-foot by 18-foot office MPCC rented in the back of the city library, and the college used any space it could find for instruction. That included the library’s meeting room, which MPCC was allowed access to free of charge as long as it wasn’t being used by someone else.

For the majority of classroom space, however, MPCC relied on the generosity of the Broken Bow Public Schools. Most instruction took place at the high school. Except for a small room set aside for the licensed practical nursing program, that meant classes had to occur after regular school hours.

Some courses couldn’t be offered at all because of scheduling and facility limitations, but that didn’t curb demand. Over the course of a decade, demand grew to the point that more than 40 classes were being offered to approximately 200 students every semester.

Meeting A Need With An Eye On The Future

Don Davis, coordinator of the Broken Bow campus at the time, realized the campus could no longer keep up with the community’s needs and subsequently took his concerns to the MPCC Board of Governors in July of 2009.

The board agreed with him and committed $200,000 toward a new campus extension project. Three options were considered: renting, buying and remodeling or construction of a new facility. For more than a year, MPCC looked at every existing building in Broken Bow that could be rented or purchased and remodeled. Nothing suitable was found.

The college decided to choose the final option – to build what it needed then with an eye on the future. Although the most expensive choice, it also seemed to be the most advantageous. It would allow Mid-Plains to create a campus better suited to its needs in an optimum location and would provide the autonomy and stability needed for continued growth in services to the community.

The plan was originally to build on land that was going to be donated by the local school district. The site was adjacent to the Broken Bow Junior High School on the north side of town.

However, local leaders stepped forward and joined MPCC in an effort to create a much more comprehensive facility in a more desirable location.

In June 2010, the Custer Economic Development Corporation announced Custer Campus Inc. and MPCC had reached an agreement to construct a new seven-acre campus that would become home to the MPCC building and other facilities for public service entities.

The site, located on the western edge of Broken Bow along U.S. Highway 2, was acquired by Custer Campus Inc. from the Industrial Corporation. MPCC committed its previously allotted $200,000 toward the $1.3 million project. The rest of the funds came primarily from private donations.

The official groundbreaking for the MPCC Broken Bow Campus building took place Nov. 5, 2010. There was a subsequent ribbon cutting ceremony July 29, 2011.

The main part of the facility featured offices and five classrooms filled with state-of-the-art technology. Two of the rooms were designed to open into one larger room if needed. An annex on the south side of the building was designed with applied technology programs in mind. It was made tall enough and wide enough for combines and other heavy equipment.

MPCC began expanding its offerings through the campus a month after it opened – providing the area with increased academic transfer, technical, community service and business and industry training.

The Growth Continues

By 2017, there was a need to expand again to offer more and additional types of technical training. Crews began adding on to the south end of the shop in July of that year, creating another 3,500-square-feet of space that could accommodate not only more MPCC classes but also trainings for local businesses.

The expansion meant dedicated space for welding and electrical classes – including a grinding room. That freed up the original shop space, where welding used to be, for automotive technology, small engine repair and other programs to be determined based on industry need.

The addition has since also been used to house MPCC’s applied technology simulators used for training in electrical technology and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

The expansion was revealed to the public April 23, 2018. The project cost $292,000, of which MPCC committed $135,000, and Custer Campus, Inc. contributed $157,000.