March 17, 2016 — The College of Central Florida is eagerly awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature of the 2016-2017 Florida First budget, which includes $7.28 million for the first higher education facility in Levy County.
Tuesday, Gov. Scott released his veto list and indicated that he is prepared to sign the budget once it crosses his desk. The CF Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus project is not included on the veto list.
“We appreciate the support of the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. There is great need for a permanent higher education facility in Levy County,” said Dr. Jim Henningsen, CF president. “This campus will bring education and greater opportunities for employment to our Levy community, and we are excited to bring this project to fruition.”
Levy residents can look forward to a projected opening in fall 2017. CF began planning and infrastructure for the campus with $6.3 million in state appropriations received in 2014 and 2015.
Construction of a Levy Campus has been a priority of CF since 2004 when the CF District Board of Trustees approved a search for suitable properties. In 2006, former trustee Loy Ann Mann and her husband, Jack, donated 15.4 acres of undeveloped land to the college. Also in 2006, Jack Wilkinson, a longtime Levy county teacher, donated $2.5 million. An additional $1 million was secured from private donors. In 2007, additional acreage was purchased, expanding the site at 15390 N.W. Highway 19 in Chiefland to 40.4 acres.
CF currently offers classes and full student services at a store-front facility in Chiefland, 114 Rodgers Blvd. Classes have been at capacity for several years as CF enrollment in Levy County has increased. In 2014-2015, CF served more than 1,200 credit and noncredit students. In 2012, CF began offering Applied Welding Technologies in existing buildings at the Levy property.
The Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus project includes a stand-alone building that will complement the existing welding training facility. Included in the project are laboratories, general purpose classrooms, library, auditorium and exhibition area, student services and offices for instructors, administration and more.