• 54°

Officials, dignitaries dedicate new, George-Oakes Building

When Joe Loviza became involved with the effort to build a then-Hinds Junior College Vicksburg-Warren campus on Mississippi 27, he never envisioned it would grow like it has.

“I’ll be honest, I never would have envisioned it, even sitting back dreaming, what are we going to have for Vicksburg,” Loviza, the campus’ first dean, said as he stood in one of the classrooms of the campus’ Academic and Career-Technical building.

The building was named for Richard George, president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, and Donald Oakes, former Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent and current member of the Hinds Community College Board of Trustees, during a ceremony Friday.

Warren County committed property tax dollars to help pay for the $13 million project. The building is also funded by federal and state New Market Tax Credits through the Hinds Community College Foundation.

“It’s a real honor,” Oakes said. “I was surprised, but I was really honored that the Board of Trustee wanted to do this, and it’s a real honor to be associated with Mr. George. He was instrumental in getting the money for this together. It’s a big day.”

George said he was proud “to have the opportunity to be a part of it, especially with Donald Oakes, who is a career educator. The man is a longtime friend. That’s what makes it special, to know that we were able to be part of something that is important to our youth and our future.”

The two-story, 40,000-square-foot building George-Oakes Building will include 10 classrooms, eight teaching labs, administrative offices, a downstairs training lab that holds about 50 participants and an upstairs multipurpose room that holds about 80 participants.

The Vicksburg Warren School District’s River City Early College High School will be housed on the second floor.

The downstairs training lab will be named the Bruce Training Lab in honor of William F. “Sonny” Bruce, a former superintendent of Vicksburg public schools.

Also in the new building, the upstairs multipurpose room will be named the Peets Multipurpose Room in honor of Charles Peets, who has served on the Vicksburg-Warren County Campus Advisory Board for many years and is currently serving as chairman.

“We’re looking at about 5,000 new jobs in this area,” Loviza said, “And this thing (building) is going to be the center of it. We’re going to have people training; we’re going to be open 24 hours a day for those who need it. That’s what it means to me; getting the best trained work force in Mississippi.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John