Plans underway for Lyon College following Oct. fire - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Plans underway for Lyon College following Oct. fire

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Lyon College campus life is adapting to changes following the fire in October. The bookstore and student center also went up in smoke and police are still investigating this fire as an arson but no arrests have been made.

Rebuilding a cafeteria and a student center is not something a college can do quickly. However students still have to be fed and other operations continued. Three months after the October fire what has Lyon college done to deal with the problems? On the morning of October 27th this now vacant lot was still filled with a shell of a building smoldering from the previous evening's fire.

Scott Clark Construction was in its final hours of clean up. On the site of the cafeteria the last load of rubble is getting ready to be hauled off and they are taking out a last tree . Over all the college and the students are adapting fairly well.

Over at the girls gym which is now the cafeteria, the noise level reminds me of a high school cafeteria as the students and faculty make selections off a buffet line. Paula Zagata who runs the "gymateria" says the logistics of feeding the students is tough.

Zagatasays, "you have a temporary kitchen that we have across campus where you are cooking the food. Putting it in hotboxes, loading it in vehicles and transporting it over here. Carrying it up steps and putting it on the line."

But Zagata says kids are pretty resilient and the school has taken steps to help them spend their food dollars both on and off campus. Giving double credits from last semester after the fire.

Across campus the bookstore has moved into a temporary building. The building was still being power washed and inside, clothing was being priced and hung on racks.

Public relations director Bob Qualls says the school has had to make some other temporary changes.

"We have  places for the Scottish Heritage program to move in to, and Campus Safety," Qualls says.  "Those were all in the building that we are are trying to renovate to use as a temporary dining hall." That building is where the temporary kitchen has been set up and will be about twice the size of the present temporary facility. According to college officials it has not been decided whether or not the cafeteria building will be re-built on the same location as the old one.

Ironically, from the rubble of the fire has come opportunity for the theater.

Collin Brown teaches technical theater and is designing the sets for the play "The Trojan Women", which takes place in the destroyed city of Troy.

"I'm thinking about destruction and rubble," Brown told Region Eight News.  "I'm looking out the window of my office where our cafeteria used to be and I'm seeing destruction and rubble. Why don't I collect it instead of making it."

Brown says after a little negotiation he  hauled several hundred  pounds of bricks and twisted metal and burned up kitchen tools and dishes and has incorporated them into the sets. He says it's interesting what he has found.

"The coolest piece that I've found in my digging around.... was a decorative plate with the college seal on it that was in the Presidents Dining Room," Brown said. "The seal maintained itself intact but everything else you can see got smoke damaged and broken by the fire."

Brown says he hopes people come see the play not just for the rubble on the sets but to see the part that it plays in this historical drama. "Trojan Women" opens on the 17th of February and runs through the 20th.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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