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Ozark Campus continues to ensure student safety

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In keeping with its mission to provide a quality learning environment, Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus is in the process of adding several new security features to ensure student safety.

Plans for the campus’ new security additions – improvements to outdoor lighting, new security cameras and call stations – came from a taskforce made up of administration and staff from the Ozark and Russellville campuses, which began meeting in May.

Totaling an estimated cost of $248,362, all three security upgrades are expected to be completed during the spring 2012 semester.

Chancellor Jo Alice Blondin said, “Without question, the safety and security of our campus is our No. 1 priority. The plan we’re implementing addresses our campus growth in regards to security needs.”

The projects are broken down into three concurrent phases, the first of which is to improve and add onto lighting conditions, including new lights for the “Path to Progress” walking trail around the campus. Expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2012, Phase I also will see a building-security plan to lock perimeter doors after certain hours and post signage at doorways to show open/locked hours.

Phase II, which is expected to be completed by Feb. 29, 2012, will see new security cameras installed at major entryways, parking areas and indoor spaces where high-cost items exist (academic and computer labs) and money changes hands (cafeteria and bookstore).

Phase III will see two call stations installed in the east and northeast perimeter parking lots. When triggered, the call box will dial 911. This phase is expected to be completed by March 31, 2012.

Chief Fiscal Officer Sandra Cheffer said, “Our top priority is student and campus safety,  so much so that we have reevaluated our campus plans, focusing on safety and implementing a variety of physical plant enhancements.”

In October 2009 Arkansas Tech-Ozark hired its first security officer, Chris Rambo of Charleston. A former Fort Smith police officer, Rambo said the goal of campus security is to “foster an environment where students can focus on learning.”

Also in 2009 the campus worked with the city of Ozark and Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department to install a crosswalk on Highway 23 and upgrade an existing crosswalk connecting the Collegiate Center and then-new Student Services building.

Earlier this year Arkansas Tech-Ozark’s fire alarm system was upgraded with new, state-of-the-art smoke and heat detectors. The project cost more than $90,000 and was finished Sept. 15.

Cheffer said, “From our public safety officer to our partnerships with the city of Ozark and highway department and all of the building and grounds improvements, the Ozark Campus is better equipped than ever to support our students, faculty and staff.”

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