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LAWRENCE CO. Center is moving on up



Published: Sun, July 1, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Classes are offered through area universities and colleges.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- It's a weekend of box lifting and moving for Arch Zarone.

But come Monday, Zarone, director of the Lawrence County Learning Center, will be back to his old job, but in new digs.

The center, an educational consortium that has been at 29 S. Mercer St. for the past three years, is moving to 131 Columbus Inner Belt.

Monday's classes will be in the new facility.

"I think things are going to be great. I'm excited about this," Zarone said last week after taking a break from packing. "Once we get over there more people will see us. I think you will see a lot of different things there."

Offerings: The educational consortium offers a variety of classes, ranging from one-day seminars to semester-long classes through partnerships with area colleges, universities and businesses.

It started about four years ago after county Commissioner Brian Burick and New Castle Mayor Timothy Fulkerson each formed committees to look at expanding affordable education opportunities in the area.

"The mayor and I met and decided since the groups we put together had similar missions we should work together. We combined those two committees, and out of that the idea for the Lawrence County Learning Center was born," Burick said.

City and county officials later worked out a deal to fund the center.

The county formed a countywide library system that provides money to all three county libraries, with the bulk going to the New Castle Public Library.

The city's yearly $90,000 library contribution was then directed to the center, Burick said. Other funding came from private donations and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, he said.

Previous moves: The center spent its first year in the Sankey Youth Center, a space owned and donated by the New Castle City Rescue Mission. Then it moved to 29 S. Mercer St., where there were six classrooms.

However, as the classes offered increased and class sizes grew, there was a need for more space.

"We only had four parking spots, so we had students running out before the bell rings to put money in a parking meter before getting a ticket. It wasn't a good situation. We also needed more classrooms," Zarone said.

The move to the Columbus Inner Belt building will double the class space, provide free parking and room for study areas, Zarone said.

It should also give them enough space for more courses.

"Schools would call and want to offer classes, and I'd have to say we didn't have the space. I think now we can say 'yes' every time someone calls," Zarone said.

Slippery Rock University, Penn State Shenango Valley Campus and Beaver County Community College are among those offering classes there this year. There are also distance learning courses through the Northern Tier, a consortium of state-run universities that include Lock Haven and Clarion universities.

Zarone said the new space should allow for more business seminars and trade courses.




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