A ground-breaking new era for FM

JOHNSTOWN — Hard hats and gold shovels were the fashions of the day at Fulton-Montogmery Community College on Tuesday as officials celebrated the start of construction of a new campus building and new era for the college.

The official ground breaking ceremony for the new Allen House was held with college officials and members of local governments on hand to see the start of a new meeting place on campus.

Construction on the project began last week.

Allen House will serve as the offices for the college president, provost and foundation executive. The building will also have a kitchen and event room along with a board room meeting space.

FMCC President Dustin Swanger said the purpose of the Allen House is to allow the college to invite the local community to the campus for events.

“We have been asked over the years to host a number of public events for elected officials and we have done that in the student union and it works OK, but the student union should be for the students,” Swanger said.

Swanger said the Allen House will allow the student union to really be a space just for the students. He said it is where students should be able to be loud and have fun.

“If you’re hosting an event in there and students are being loud outside, you hate to go out and tell them to be quiet, so this will provide them a venue for our community to do that,” Swanger said.

Swanger said the Allen House will also host some student events, along with hosting state and local government officials as well as to fundraise and friendraise.

The building is being constructed in part through a donation by the late George and Frances Allen of Amsterdam. The couple left FMCC $2 million. A matching grant from the state is helping with construction.

FM Foundation Chair Del Salmon said Frances Allen was the head of a scholarship foundation that use to write checks to FMCC on behalf of graduating high school seniors who were attending the college in the fall.

“It’s a beginning. This building is going to create incredible opportunities for our students, for our staff, for our foundation and for our future. It is going to create a wonderful, loving, and lasting memory of Frances Allen so I am very proud to be a part of that,” Salmon said.

Salmon said the cooperation of the college administration, board of trustees and foundation lead to the idea of the new building becoming closer to reality.

Salmon said he has early memories of the college, riding in his father’s station wagon every weekend during the it’s construction and being present in 1967 when the original college was opened.

“FM runs through my veins and I love this place,” he said. “I am very proud of my partnership with Swanger and his vision is just exemplary.”

Salmon said this is the first stand-alone construction on the campus since the college was built.

“We’ve done lots of other major construction, but nothing else has been stand-alone,” Salmon said.

He announced the board room will be named the Carl S. Salmon Jr. Board Room after his father, due to a donation from himself and his wife.

“My father loved this college, and my father would be so proud that his vision has become this incredible reality and has really been a strong focal point of this community,” Salmon said.

FM Board of Trustee Chairman Ed Jasewicz said the Allen House was made possible through the cooperation between the college, foundation and local and state officials.

“Swanger had a vision and brought it before our board of trustees. Taking that vision he brought it before the board of trustees, and as you see, we are in construction now of the Allen house,” Jasewicz said

Jasewicz said the new building will give a space for alumni, who currently don’t have a place to go.

“It will also expand our administrative building to allow for more space we are desperately in need of,” he said. “It will also allow a place for board members to meet and the public to meet when they come to our college in a more friendly atmosphere.”

During the event, Swanger announced a new scholarship will be offered by the FM Foundation to pay the one third cost to students of the college in the high school program for those who may not be able to afford it.

Swanger said he is thankful for the support of the board of trustees, state and Fulton and Montgomery counties for their support of the project.

“I want to thank the foundation, and specifically Del Salmon, for his ability to get the funds and I want to thank the Allen Family, and Mrs. Allen for the donation,” Swanger said.

Swanger said the college hopes to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on the building in April.

Kerry Minor can be reached at kminor @leaderherald.com.

By Patricia Older

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