MIDLOTHIAN — The community gathered for a celebration Thursday evening as Navarro College in Midlothian held a ribbon cutting and dedication of the second building on the campus.

The new facility marks the second phase of growth for the community college and features two additional computer labs, a security office, a conference room and will double the number of classrooms on the campus, according to the Navarro website.

Events began with a dinner at the Midlothian Conference Center in recognition of the Navarro College board of trustees.

“The partnership with Navarro has made a big difference in our community – the way we look at ourselves and the way we interact with the rest of the Metroplex and for that we are very appreciative,” said Frank Viso, CEDM executive director.

About 45 attendees, including city council members, Corporation for the Economic Development of Midlothian staff and 4A board members and distinguished guests, including Molly Smith, district director to state Sen. Brian Birdwell and Dinah Weeble, district manager to state Rep. Jim Pitts gathered for the dinner.

Mayor Boyce Whatley delivered a proclamation followed by the presentation of plaques to each of the trustees in recognition of their dedication and contribution to the development of the Navarro College Midlothian campus.

“It is hard to believe it has been six years since we opened the first building. We are ahead of schedule, which shows how much the community has embraced Navarro College and what it brings to our community,” Whatley said.

Board chairman, Lloyd Huffman, expressed the board’s commitment to expanding the Midlothian campus as much as financially possible to ensure educational opportunities in the community.

Following dinner, the group proceeded to the new building where members of the community were able to tour the facility. On hand for the festivities, and one of the most popular attendees, was Navarro mascot bulldog, Beauregard V.

“This is another step for Midlothian toward becoming a destination for people coming to North Texas,” said Dr. Cubie Ward, dean of the Midlothian campus. “Navarro College is helping to make Midlothian that destination.”

Dr. Harold Nolte, president of Ellis County campuses, led the event and introduced the evening’s speakers.

“This is a great time to live in Ellis County. It’s a wonderful time to be here in Midlothian. Welcome to the ever changing landscape – we like to call it Navarro College,” Nolte said. “The old saying, ‘If you build it they will come’ – Ellis County gets that and Midlothian even gets it better.”

Dr. Richard Sanchez, president of the Navarro College District, and Lloyd Huffman, Navarro board of trustees president, presented Viso with a large framed plaque to be displayed in the building commending the CEDM’s dedication to higher education in Midlothian.

“This will be a reminder that will forever stand in recognition of the role that the Corporation for Economic Development played in the construction of this building,” Sanchez said.

CEDM board president, Danny Rodgers, commented on the vision of the community in bringing a higher education presence to Midlothian and expressed gratitude to the board of trustees, community leaders and residents.

“We stand here today with the beginning of a very large presence that will only grow from this point. We made a $1.5 million commitment to this project and we have earmarked an additional $1.5 million of 4A funds toward higher education and development of the MITC (multi-institutional teaching center) program with Navarro College, Texas A&M Commerce and Tarleton State University. The commitment is here; the product is here; the support is here and we are very thankful,” Rodgers said.

Navarro College board of trustees in attendance were A.L. Atkeisson, Lloyd D. Huffman (chairman), Dr. James G. Price (vice chairman), Faith D. Holt, Richard L. Aldama and Phil Judson (secretary/treasurer). Unable to attend the event was Billy Todd McGraw.

“I think it’s a wonderful partnership with the city of Midlothian. It is comforting to know that education is a priority and we look forward to meeting the education needs of the community,” Sanchez said.

Contact Rebecca at rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-517-1451.