Tuesday, June 17, 2008
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Federal support announced for major Lincoln College project

New Lincoln Center to enhance community resources

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[June 17, 2008]  On a perfect summer afternoon, U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, 18th Congressional District, came to the Lincoln College campus. The occasion was the formal announcement that USDA Rural Development will be securing a $3.8 million loan guarantee to help Lincoln College build its $8.4 million state-of-the-art athletic, convocation and museum facility. 
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Auto RepairOn Monday, the congressman joined Lincoln College President John Hutchinson in announcing funding for the college's Lincoln Center. Also present were project financiers State Bank of Lincoln President Steve Aughenbaugh and USDA Illinois Rural Development Director Doug Wilson, along with key college personnel and board members Bill Gossett, Bob Neal, Shirley Edwards, Bernard E. Behrends and Charles Nauts. USDA Public Affairs Specialist Joan Messina was also present.

Rural Development is guaranteeing a loan originated by the State Bank of Lincoln. The guarantee helped Lincoln College obtain lower cost financing from the bank. The rest of the funding is being provided by contributions and state grants.


"Lincoln College is a tremendous institution and is a vital part of the community's foundation in Lincoln and Logan County," said congressman LaHood. "Lincoln's athletic programs have always been a particular point of pride for the college, and the Lincoln Heritage Museum has an excellent collection of Abraham Lincoln artifacts. This new facility will combine these two assets into one state-of-the-art building. I am proud the federal government stepped forward to assist with this worthy project."

LaHood made the funding announcement Monday in front of University Hall and was accompanied by Wilson, the Illinois director for USDA Rural Development. The congressman thanked his district deputy chief of staff, Carol Merna, for her work on the project and presented a gold shovel to Dr. Hutchinson, the college president, for the June 25 groundbreaking.


"The new Lincoln Center is unquestionably one of the most important new structures to be built on the Lincoln College campus in nearly a half-century," said Hutchinson. It will not only include a wonderful new athletic and convocation center, but a substantially expanded and upgraded Lincoln Heritage Museum as well. It will also be offered to the community as a major venue for community events, conferences and regional high school competitions, as well as assist greatly in the recruiting and retention of students, Hutchinson said.

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The Lincoln Center, which will be located at the north end of the campus, will replace the 80-year-old Davidson-Sheffer Gymnasium for athletic events, making it possible to host basketball tournaments, wrestling meets and volleyball games on campus. The new center will offer the community and the region a much-needed site for larger events, such as conferences, trade shows, conventions and entertainment.

The college's Lincoln Heritage Museum, complete with state-of-the-art environmental controls, will have 12 times the space in the new facility to exhibit its significant collection of Abraham Lincoln artifacts. The new facility is likely to attract more Lincoln tourists and scholars, especially those already traveling to Springfield and New Salem, to the only museum that focuses on the life of Abraham Lincoln prior to his election.


"The Lincoln Center will benefit students and be a great resource for the college," said Wilson. "We supported this project because we believe it will improve the economic climate of the area and the quality of life for Lincoln residents."

"We are very pleased that the USDA Rural Development has granted the college this important loan guarantee," said Hutchinson. "We are delighted to join with Representative LaHood and Illinois Rural Development Director Doug Wilson to announce this guarantee, which was originated by Lincoln's own State Bank of Lincoln." He also recognized Greg Eimer, Lincoln College vice president and financial director, for his contributions to the project.

Completion of the facility is scheduled for 2009. Congressman LaHood said he could think of no better fitting place to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. It continues to put the college on the map and it celebrates the future, he said.

Rural Development provides financing and technical assistance to foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. More information on USDA Rural Development in Illinois is available on the Web at www.rurdev.usda.gov/il.

Groundbreaking for the facility has been set for 10 a.m. June 25.

[News release; LDN]


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