For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2019
Primary Media Contact:
Public Relations Specialist
Ground was ceremoniously broken Thursday, May 16, on Laurel Ridge’s first permanent home in Page County. While the current Luray-Page County Center (LPCC) has been operating out of a former Wrangler jeans plant at 334 N. Hawksbill St. in Luray since 2006, it is in leased space that recently sold at auction.
“While we’re extremely grateful to all of you who helped create the Lord Fairfax Luray-Page County Center, the building simply wasn’t designed for instruction,” Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser told a crowd of state and local officials, donors, Laurel Ridge employees and staff during the groundbreaking ceremony.
In addition to the issues common to older facilities – leaking roofs, frequent power outages, and a lack of parking – there is no space for trades instruction at the current facility, which Laurel Ridge will continue to lease until the new center opens in time for fall 2020 classes.
In late 2016, the Jenkins family – Russell and Elta Rae, and their son and daughter-in-law, Rodney and Karen – approached the college with an offer to donate about 6 acres of land situated behind the Wal-mart in Luray. Consultants hired by the college determined about $1.5-$1.7 million could likely be raised for a new LPCC.
The project has been met with enthusiasm by the community, and already, nearly $2.65 million has been pledged or donated. The Jenkins family were able to add two more acres to the donation, as well as significant site work and a financial contribution.
As a result, construction on the 12,000-square-foot center, which will be called the Russell A. and Rodney A. Jenkins Hall, can begin. In addition to classrooms, it will house a pair of trades labs, student commons areas and an outdoor space with breathtaking mountain views.
“We cannot thank the Page County community enough for stepping up to support this project,” President Blosser said. “Many businesses and individuals have made generous donations. There is still an opportunity to donate to this project. Although we have met our goal, we can use more funds to complete the project.”
Laurel Ridge student Alyssa Howard, who lives in Page County, shared the profound impact being able to learn locally has had on her future.
“Four years ago, I was almost five months pregnant and living out of my car,” Howard said. “About this time of day, I was between shifts at McDonalds and my waitressing job. You could find me bathing myself in a laundromat bathroom as I waited for my one pair of work pants to finish drying.”
When her daughter was born, Howard decided it was important for her to graduate from college before her little girl graduated from kindergarten. That’s when she enrolled at Laurel Ridge. Howard completed 37 general education credits – 22 taken online, the remaining at the LPCC – and was accepted into Laurel Ridge’s registered nursing program.
Howard has benefitted from the $2,850 Fred C. and Michele M. Fielding Scholarship for Health Professionals and the Tanya Bock Emergency Fund for Nursing Students. And, she will meet her graduation goal one year ahead of schedule.
“The access to a local campus and online classes got me to where I am today, and I’m confident the new center will open even more opportunities for more students,” she said.
Laurel Ridge Foundation Board Member Dave Slye said employers in Page County tell him about people they’ve hired who attended Laurel Ridge, or about Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions training their companies have been provided.
“I’ve heard about your chance to go back and finish college as an adult, and about the impact Laurel Ridge has had on your children,” he said. “I’m excited that this new center will offer a focal point and gathering place for our community. I’m especially thrilled to think about the student lives that’ll be impacted by having access to an affordable and accessible education.”
State legislators, Sen. Mark Obenshain and Del. Todd Gilbert also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
“It’s a beautiful day in Page County, and it’s a beautiful day for Page County,” Del. Gilbert said. “Amazing things are happening right here and now that are going to [provide] benefits for this community for many years to come.”
He shared a Lord Fairfax success story from his own family. Del. Gilbert’s father, Jim, had to drop out of college his freshman year to help support his own family. When his son was in college, the elder Gilbert enrolled in Laurel Ridge.
“While I was at UVA just getting good enough grades to not get fussed at, my dad was getting all As at Lord Fairfax,” Del. Gilbert said. “He got his associate degree at Lord Fairfax, a very fulfilling part of his life.”
He went on to say, “It’s impressive that 100 percent of what’s going to happen from this day forward on this piece of land is not only going to be for this community, but the resources provided were provided by this community.”
Tax-deductible gifts for the new LPCC can be sent to the Laurel Ridge Foundation, 173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, Va. 22645, or by visiting laurelridge.edu/lfcc-foundation.
Pictured left to right: Allison Jenkins, her grandparents Elta Rae and Russell Jenkins, Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser, and Rodney and Karen Jenkins.
Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.
Laurel Ridge Community College (Laurel Ridge) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.