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MARY MEAUX — Amazing to see growth firsthand of Lamar State College Port Arthur

Lamar State College Port Arthur has come a long way since the early 1990s when I stumbled onto campus undecided of what to do with my future.

I was almost 30 when I decided to go to college. A wife and mother of three small kids when I decided to further my education.

Back then, the campus was a component of the Lamar University System and later became part of the Texas State University System, changing names to become LSCPA.

I say all of this to note that I have witnessed the phenomenal growth of the place where I started my path to higher learning. While I didn’t go into the field in which I obtained my bachelor’s degree and lifetime certification — elementary education — I found a career that allowed me to follow the college’s progress.

LSCPA has come a long way in preparing and educating people for the future. When I was a student there was a lot of focus on the nursing program and health-related fields.

The multi-story student center that today houses administrative offices, student services, food area and so much more was not there by the mid- to late-90s. Those services were spread out across the campus with the Ruby Fuller Building housing my English classes and a student center.

The Fuller Education Building started off as a Methodist church, but it’s now a classroom and office space for Lamar State College-Port Arthur.

If you drive by the campus today you will note the building, which was once First United Methodist Church and is now 100 years old, is getting new life.

Hurricanes, flooding and more made the building unusable, then the 86th Texas legislative session, through SB 500, provided special appropriations of $6.32 million to LSCPA for property damage related to Hurricane Harvey.

Construction is underway that will, according to the college, create a modern interior space with major repairs to the exterior.

“The current classroom addition will be removed, allowing for a grand secondary entrance to the building. Once the renovations are completed, plans include locating classes, faculty and student support services into the building,” a previous Port Arthur News states .

But that’s just one noticeable difference — there are plenty.

There’s the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center and the Sam and Linda Monroe Performing Arts Center. Nope, those weren’t around way back when.

LSCPA underwent a renaissance of sorts and is now focusing on training for industrial jobs while keeping with the basics.

Now there’s the Sheila McCarthy Umphrey Industrial Technology Center and a welding program to be located in the old armory building.

The latest accomplishment is big, to say the least.

LSCPA is on track to create the largest commercial driver examination facility in the State of Texas.

The LSCPA site plan for construction. (Courtesy photo)

College officials received confirmation from The Department of Commerce that it is the recipient of $4.3 million as part of the EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant.

The grant was awarded to support workforce development and diversification through the design and construction of a commercial driver education and examination center, according to information from the college.

So I’m here to say, I’m proud of my city and of the little college that gave me the confidence and education to go out into the world.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com