SFCC officially opens Keystone campus

Santa Fe Community College's newest satellite campus in Keystone Heights opens it's doors on Wednesday.

KRISTEN HINES/Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 12:17 a.m.
Keystone Heights is now a college town.
Santa Fe Community College's new satellite campus in Keystone Heights opened to students for the first time Wednesday.
"It's a lot more convenient," said Keystone Heights resident Nicole Herring, 21, after an evening health sciences course.
Crystal Somers, 20, of Melrose added, "The parking is great."
Both part-time students said the new campus means their trip to SFCC will be a lot shorter. The new building, known as the Watson Center, is about 15 miles from the nearest campus in Starke and 31 miles from SFCC's main campus in northwest Gainesville.
Bob Wolfson, the Watson Center director, said the reason for the campus is to target residents of east Bradford County, the Keystone Heights area and the Melrose area.
"We've been welcomed here with open arms," he said. "It brings that college atmosphere and life to the community."
The center has a Keystone Heights address but is actually located in Bradford County, near the county line for Clay, Putnam and Alachua counties.
"Quite a few areas have been underserved," Wolfson said.
"Not everybody has the ability or desire to go to Starke, Palatka, Gainesville or Orange Park," he said, referring to locations for SFCC and St. Johns River Community College.
The seven-classroom building is the first of two planned for the 40-acre site at 4150 State Road 21, next to Keystone Heights Presbyterian Church.
The next building, planned to open in January 2006 or earlier, will have science laboratory - an attribute the Starke campus does not have, Wolfson said.
As of Wednesday the the campus had filled 225 seats for spring classes, he said. Among the courses offered included introductory courses in accounting, history, biology, computer science, mathematics and English. Students still will have to travel to Gainesville for more advanced courses needed to earn associate's degrees.
Wolfson said he expects enrollment will grow in the fall term.
As a new building that SFCC rushed to open this week, not everything was in working order Wednesday. The telephones and computers were not ready Wednesday but are expected to be connected next week, Wolfson said.
A few weeks after that, SFCC hopes to offer student services at the center so that students may register for classes, take entrance tests and receive counseling, Wolfson said.
Douane D. James can be reached at (352) 374-5087 or jamesd@gvillesun.com.

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