Representatives, construction professionals and donors from Sam Houston State University gathered at Gibbs Ranch on Friday to celebrate the start of the first phase of construction of a new agricultural campus.
This groundbreaking ceremony signaled the start of an upcoming expansion at the university’s renowned agricultural science department with advanced greenhouses, a equine science training area, a meat and food science facility, and some traditional academic and research environments.
According to Stanley Kelly, an animal science professor and program coordinator for Agricultural Sciences, the Gibbs Ranch expansion project initially began in 2007, but ran into obstacles that stalled the project until two years ago when charities and contractors began to come together” like clockwork,” in the opening operation on Friday as the backdrop for the closing ceremony.
“It’s been a long time coming, it’s honestly been a vision and a dream since the turn of the century,” Kelly said.
Now industry professionals from Bartlett Cocke General Contractors, McCaffetti Electric Company, McClure & Brown Engineering/Surveying, Straight Line Metal Building and additional design and architecture firms have come together to begin early phase construction of the facility.
Local companies were contracted for this massive project because of their community ties and experiential knowledge.
Angela Coty, vice president of East Texas operations for Bartlett Cocke General Contractors, said, “This project is driven by so much passion and the community strongly expresses that sentiment. It’s not just reinvesting in the community, local to us.” It is also better to have contractors who are affiliated with the university and have community ties which help in producing quality product on time and under budget.
Not only does the project represent the plans of the Sam Houston State Department of Agriculture for the future, but it also serves as a reminder of the program’s humble beginnings. The ceremony took place in August 1909, 113 years before the official introduction of the department’s first class in agricultural sciences.
A distinguished alumnus, retired agriculture professor and rodeo coach and star LN “Sonny” Sykes was in attendance to help celebrate the start of the Gibbs Ranch expansion. Sykes helped lead the university’s rodeo team to numerous awards and successes for his achievements and was later inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboys Hall of Fame for his dedicated contributions to the sport.
“I’ve been waiting 50 years on this, of course it was a dream of mine. I think Sam Houston State deserves it, we’ve won more honors than any other school in the country,” he said.
The completion of this project was originally scheduled for September 2023, but it has recently been delayed and is subject to change, however, officials are hopeful and hopeful that the project will be delivered on time.