DANVILLE – The Danville Area Community College Board of Trustees will meet in special session Friday morning to consider an offer to purchase the U.S. Army Reserve Building.
College officials had been working with the U.S. Department of Education earlier this year to acquire the Army Reserve Center located adjacent to northeast corner of the college’s campus.
The U.S. Department of Education, however, wanted the DACC to commit to one program use for the facility for 30 years, which was a requirement the Board of Trustees thought was too restrictive, DACC President Stephen Nacco said.
“You don’t know what the labor needs of the community will be 30 years from now,” Nacco said. “What makes a community college so good is that it’s nimble and flexible and can respond to employer needs.”
On Friday, the Board of Trustees will consider purchasing the Army Reserve Center at 2408 E. Main St. outright for $150,000.
“That’s lower than the appraised value for the facility,” Nacco said. “There are not a lot of big-ticket items or repairs there. The government kept up the place.”
Now that the City of Danville selected a casino operator last week to develop a casino and resort south of Interstate 74 at Lynch Road, Nacco envisions part of the Army Reserve Center being used for casino employee training programs, similar to ones at Illinois Central College in Peoria near Par-A-Dice Casino and Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing, N.J., which has been supporting nine casinos with specialized training since 1977.
“We would work with the casino operator and resort owners to find out their needs,” Nacco said. “They’re going to need culinary arts and security people. We’re on East Main, less than a mile from the site.”
Some of the courses that could be taught would include how to repair slot machines, how to operate the machines and how to deal cards, as well as personal enrichment classes that would teach students how to play the games and learn some of the strategies, he said.
ICC in Peoria receives casino equipment and support from Par-A-Dice to train the casino’s future employees, Nacco said.
The Army Reserve Center, which was built in 1958, has been vacant since 2010. The property consists of two buildings on a 3.5-acre lot. The administrative/office building is two-story and 22,878 square feet. The garage/storage building is one-story and 4,356 square feet.
Before it would become a casino training center, the facility would be used for some of the college’s immediate needs.
“With the two buildings there will be places for immediate use, and then we would phase in the other parts,” Nacco said. “An immediate need is forklift training, and we have an immediate need for a storage facility.”
Two workforce development programs -- forklift and semitrailer truck training -- would begin there first.
The facility’s back lot and loading dock would be used for the forklift training program, which would free up space for the semitrailer tractor program to take place in the lot in front of the Julius W. Hegeler II Advanced Technology Center. Nacco said the semitrailer tractor program now takes place at the Steel Grip building.
“We can’t produce enough drivers,” he said. “The businesses in our area are clamoring for people with these skills.”
Another one of DACC’s immediate needs is for an indoor storage area, which has been on a state funding wish list at a cost of $1.2 million for new construction. The Army Reserve Center would accommodate DACC’s storage needs, he said.
Nacco said the criminal justice program would move to the facility by fall semester 2020, and a fully functional shooting range in the middle of one of the buildings could be used to teach gun safety.