Construction of Payson's first college building is on schedule and within budget, school officials say, and they're getting ready to celebrate with a grand opening later this year.
The $2.322 million school, which is being built at the corner of Mudsprings Road and Highway 260 in east Payson, is set to be finished at the end of this month.
College officials expect to have the 21,000-square-foot building furnished by the first week in December and they tentatively plan to hold an open house and dedication ceremony at the school Dec. 7. Classes are set to begin in the new building next January.
"The open house is contingent on the furnishings," EAC Dean Margo Bracamonte said. "We don't want to open the building to the public until everything is ready to go."
"All indications from our vendors are that we'll be ready for an opening Dec. 7, but something can always go wrong. We'll be able to commit to a date by Nov. 1."
EAC's Payson center, which has leased classroom and office space in a central Payson mall for a decade, will be able to expand course offerings in the new classroom building as the community grows, Bracamonte said.
This fall, EAC offered 123 classes in Payson with core courses for seven two-year degrees.
"We'll expand as needed," the dean said. "It looks like the liberal studies program is growing and we may need to do some expansion there. Most of our courses now are core-curriculum classes for degrees, but we still offer community classes.
"Anytime we have an interest in a subject, we try to meet those needs. Meeting community needs is the philosophy of any community college."
In related business, EAC's Gila County Advisory Board met Tuesday and discussed the terms of an intergovernmental agreement, which was completed in August, that allowed EAC to sell an acre of land near its new Payson campus to the Town of Payson for $125,000.
Town officials want to use the land for a fire department substation in east Payson.
The college collected $121,000 for the deal, which reflects the sale price less expenses the college shared with the town for a water main extension along Briarwood, title fees and water connections.