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Work set to start soon on Gainesville State's new building
New facility will include room for P.E. classes, bookstore, offices
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Penny Mills, executive dean of the Gainesville State College's Watkinsville campus, talks about plans for a new multipurpose building on campus.

Relief may be on the way for Gainesville State College's bustling Watkinsville campus.

Work could begin in May for a 10,000-square-foot, $1.5 million multipurpose building that will house physical education classes, a bookstore and 18 faculty offices, said Penny Mills, executive dean of the Oconee campus.

Students now are taking P.E. classes off campus. The school has rented space at a fitness center, karate center and a dance studio.

"When the architect started working on the building, he said ‘I think I can get some office space for you, maybe even a larger bookstore in the same building,'" Mills said. "So that's what we will have."

The old bookstore will be turned into the campus' second computer lab, she said.

"The benefit of the building is that we're getting a lot of the things we need," Mills said. "Our faculty are doubled and tripled up in offices right now, and so we're going to get some relief from that, as well."

She hopes the building will be ready for the spring semester of the 2008-09 academic year.

"Faculty already have been putting in bids for office space," Mills said, with a laugh. "All the offices will have a window, and that's sort of prime real estate around here."

More seriously, "my concern has been that we've got students who have to drive off campus to get to a P.E. class and then they have to drive back here," she said.

"And if you've ever been through this area, on (Ga.) 53 headed to (U.S.) 441 when there's a class change here on this campus, it's a (traffic) nightmare."

Gainesville State, which is based in Oakwood, opened the campus several years ago, with enrollment quickly reaching a capacity of 2,300 students. The school is the former home of a satellite campus operated by Cleveland-based Truett-McConnell College.

"The money was borrowed from the (University of Georgia) Real Estate Foundation and we had been paying them rent every month since then," Mills said.