Suncoast Technical College, Shannon Staub Library prepare to open

NORTH PORT — After a long year of construction and just a few setbacks, the new Suncoast Technical College North Port campus and Shannon Staub Library will soon welcome students and visitors. The opening of the library will make the 10th in the library system and STC’s second South County location. Together the joint structure is the first of its kind with a joint meeting space funded by the city of North Port. It’s a distinction that has not gone unnoticed by all those involved.

Suncoast Technical College

Executive director for Career and Technical Education Ron DiPillo is excited for the opening of the college’s newest location.

This new satellite campus for the college is a smaller version of the main campus in Sarasota, but — in time — will offer many of the same programs to students who will attend from throughout the region.

Along with them, 60 dual-enrolled high school students will be the first to set foot on campus with seven instructors on Tuesday.

“Interest in the campus (and programs) has been huge,” DiPillo said.

During the building of the new campus and the creation of the Phase 1 programs, the plan was slow enrollment for the first semesters.

DiPillo said they chose to start with dual-enrollment students first since they could be bused to the main campus, with adult students joining in the spring term.
Adult students who enroll for the next term will be able to enroll in certified nursing assistance, business management, industrial technologies, culinary and carpentry classes.

The five-course lineup at the North Port campus is a condensed version of the more than 40 offered at the main campus, but DiPillo said going into Phase 2, the school will look at course interest to decide what classes they will add.

“We would give it a year or two before we start looking at Phase 2,” DiPillo said.

The school will also bring over the evening courses on fire sciences currently held at North Port High School, along with the GED and English as a second language courses to the campus.

The road to opening wasn’t easy, DiPillo said. He is the second to oversee the entire project before it was handed off to Assistant Director Michael Endee.

During the spring of 2017, Todd Bowden, who had served as program director, stepped down when he was chosen as the new superintendent of schools. DiPillo was then chosen to run the program — followed by Endee.

“It’s been challenging but we’re in a good place,” DiPillo said.

Along with anticipating classes, DiPillo is excited for the joint meeting spaces on the first floor of the building.

STC North Port shares its atrium with the new Shannon Staub Library along with a public meeting space.

The community center and its rooms were suggested by the city of North Port and is made to serve not only the city but the school district staff.

DiPillo said there is a lot of anticipation for a larger group setting for meetings.

The large spaces also will help the library, which has its own spaces but it can use the conference center for its own functions.

“It’s a showcase of cooperation of government,” he said.

Shannon Staub Library

When Shannon Staub moved to North Port more than 20 years ago, the city’s library was a former twobedroom house.

“The original was overflowing,” she said.

Staub has been passionate about libraries, something that shaped her 14 years on the Sarasota County Commission.

Despite stepping down in 2010, she’s been part of the Library Foundation of Sarasota County, a nonprofit organization that works to raise money for libraries.

Staub’s love of libraries began as a child when her mother would take her. She described growing up in libraries and spending hours reading. Her love of libraries and reading is something that has stayed with her.

Seeing her name on the front of the building was hard to accept at first.

“It’s not something that can be done alone; let me have another 100 to 200 names up there,” Staub said.

Over time, Staub accepted it, and now she is thrilled as the days dwindle down to the opening of the library.

“I think people will support (the library). It’s not just for North Port, but for all,” she said.

The new library’s location is in a part of North Port that is seeing a high rate of development. According to Staub, if it wasn’t tied to STC, it would probably still be a few years out.

When the library opens, it will be the 10th to open in the Sarasota County Library System and the second for the city of North Port.

The new library will not only serve North Port residents but also students at STC.

The Shannon Staub Library is unique. Unlike others in the county, it has books pertaining to subjects specifically for STC students along with additional meeting spaces and a “maker space.”

According to librarian Susan Totter, as classes are added the library will survey students about their needs.

The library has a dedicated teen space, a children’s space and two outdoor gardens for residents and students to enjoy. Despite books being on the shelf, and all the furniture in place, the library’s opening will be delayed until Nov. 7.

According to libraries manager Sarabeth Kalajian, internet connections have not been put online in the building.

“We anticipate the opening for Nov. 7 pending the network connectivity,” Kalajian said.

Despite the lack of internet, Kalajian’s staff is still at the building doing final preparations and making sure the library is ready for patrons come Nov. 7.

“North Port deserves this caliber of library, and I think this type of facility is positive,” Staub said.

Ribbon-cutting and grand opening celebration for the Shannon Staub Library and STC North Port Campus, 4675 Career Lane, North Port, are set for 9 a.m. Nov. 7.

TIMELINE

2010 2011
Shannon Staub steps down from the Sarasota County Commission after 14 years. Gov. Charlie Crist appoints Christine Robinson to serve out the last two years of Staub’s term. She later suggests naming a library after Staub. Staub helps organize the Library Foundation of Sarasota County, which she continues to serve on in 2017. Joint library and new STC campus pitched by the county and School Board; funding hits $3 million for the project. North Port City Commission votes to increase the School Board’s budget for the college in order to include the conference center. The city of North Port puts in $715,000 for the joint conference center.

2014
Ground work and permitting begins for the new site near Interstate 75 and Cranberry Boulevard in North Port, with the official groundbreaking in August. Foundation is laid down and walls begin to go up for both buildings.

NOVEMBER 2015 JUNE 2016 JANUARY 2017 SUMMER 2017
SEPTEMBER 2017 OCT. 17, 2017 NOV. 7, 2017
All interior work begins on the library and STC, with much of the interior work nearly completed at the end of August.

Books and shelving for the library arrive, and interior materials arrive. Dual-enrollment students begin to attend classes at the new STC North Port. Official grand opening of the Shannon Staub Library and STC North Port ribbon-cutting, set for 9 a.m.

By ALEXANDRA HERRERA
STAFF WRITER
aherrera@sun-herald.com

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