Students at Williams Baptist College will soon have a new dining experience. WBC broke ground Friday on the Billie Harty Dining Room, which will double student seating capacity in the college’s Mabee-Gwinup Cafeteria.
“The Billy Harty Dining Room will provide much needed space for a growing number of resident students, and it will also significantly improve the overall student dining experience at Williams,” said WBC President Dr. Tom Jones.
The new dining area is being added on the southwest side of the cafeteria, where it will adjoin the existing Sulcer Dining Room. The expansion will also include extensive renovation of the existing kitchen and serving area.
“Williams students, and the rest of us who enjoy the cafeteria, will find this a much more comfortable setting. It will give us very modern and streamlined food service, as well,” said Jones.
The room is named for Billie Harty, late wife of N.B. Harty of Dexter, Mo. A gift from N.B. Harty is funding nearly half of the cafeteria project.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of this project has been working with Mr. Harty. He contacted us to ask if he could support a cafeteria project, and it was clear the Lord was leading him to do so,” said Jones. “We thought it entirely appropriate to name the dining room in memory of BillieHarty, a dear lady who passed away earlier this year.”
WBC Trustee Dr. Joann Goatcher and her husband, Earl, also provided a major gift toward the project, according to Jones. The Goatcherslive in Little Rock.
The 2,000 square foot addition is expected to cost $750,000. When completed, the student dining area will seat about 250 people.
The Williams president said most of the project is already funded through gifts, and the college hopes to raise the remaining funds incoming weeks.
Construction is set to begin in October, with completion expected next spring. Brackett-Krennerich Architects of Jonesboro designed the expansion, and Clark General Contractors of Walnut Ridge is handling construction.
Williams is a four-year, liberal arts college at Walnut Ridge. WBC has a fall 2013 enrollment of 574, including over 500 on its main campus.