Crews spruce up college campus as summer ends

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The campus of Kilgore College is getting a major beautification overhaul. The project began this week and includes landscaping, relocating historical equipment and installing new fixtures.

According to KC President Dr. Brenda Kays, the beautification project is intended to commemorate Amy Clements, beloved KC alum and supporter of the college.

“The concept of the project began several months ago as an idea from Mike Clements to honor the memory of his wife, Amy, who passed away in November of 2017 after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. Work on the project began August 20 and the projects will take several weeks to complete. The schedule is flexible so it does not interfere with scheduled activities and classes on campus, so there is no set deadline to complete the project,” Kays said.

Mike Clements, who met his wife while both were KC students, is owner of Energy Weldfab in White Oak and has supported programs at the college for years. Earlier this year, Clements donated $45,000 to KC to fund three scholarships for Culinary Arts students and, in 2016, Mike and Amy donated $25,000 to KC for a softball complex.

The beautification will have a wide scope, transforming the appearance of several campus locations.

“The project will include upgraded landscaping beside Dodson Auditorium to include the removal of diseased and dangerous trees to improve student safety. The oil derrick in the area will be sandblasted, painted and LED lighting will be added. Most of the historical oil equipment currently in front of Old Main will be moved to the East Texas Oil Museum property. Projects also include the beautification of the Southeast corner of campus and the front and back entrances of the Devall Student Center. A special fountain will be built at the entrance of the Devall Student Center,” Kays said.

The historical equipment being relocated to the East Texas Oil Museum will be featured along with another exhibit donated by the Clements: a vintage 1929 ice truck housed in a weatherproof enclosure built by KK Mobbs Construction.

Although work on the project is just now beginning, it has been in the works for awhile.

“It has been planned for some time now with KC administration working with Mike Clements and KK Mobbs Construction,” Kays said.

On Thursday morning this week, work crews were busy cutting branches, clearing trees and installing new signage on campus.

“Nine trees are being taken out due to rot,” said Nate Mobbs, of K-K Mobbs Construction. “But they will be replaced.”

On the corner of the campus in front of Dodson Auditorium, KC Environmental Safety, Construction and Facilities Manager Jeff Williams was working alongside a crew from Leon’s Signs Inc. to prepare a piece of ground for sign installation.

Dr. Mike Jenkins, vice president of student development, watched as the workers measured to ensure the new sign would be aligned properly with the curb.

“We’re trying to not only make things more attractive but we’re trying to communicate with the student body and with the community,” Jenkins said. The new sign will rest on a brick base four feet in height, including the “KC” logo in wrought-iron letters. An electronic display will broadcast messages to students and community members as they pass the campus.

Jenkins said many improvement projects at KC were the result of donations by Mike and Amy Clements.

“They are very generous,” Jenkins said. “We are very fortunate KC has a special place in their hearts.”

The beautification project comes at the same time as another major campus overhaul. The McKinstry company plans to work with KC in the near future to renovate the campus to increase energy efficiency, campus safety and comfort. While the two projects are not related, the campus should soon have a new look and feel.

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