University News

October 24 Groundbreaking at Kibbe Life Science Station

October 20, 2003

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University officials and area dignitaries will ceremonially break ground Friday, Oct. 24 for the new half-million dollar multipurpose facility at the UniversityÂ’s Alice L. Kibbe Life Science Station in Hancock County, between Warsaw and Hamilton. Construction of the facility recently began.

A tour of existing facilities and grounds will begin at 2 p.m. At 3 p.m. Kibbe Director Sean Jenkins will begin the 30-minute ceremony with an explanation of the project and an introduction of dignitaries, including Western Illinois President Al Goldfarb, Trustee Lorraine Epperson, Provost Joseph Rallo, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Tom Helm, State Senator John Sullivan and State Representative Rich Myers.

Funding for the project includes a $242,300 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) along with matching money from Western Illinois University.

“This NSF grant, which was among 18 funded projects from 68 proposals nationwide in 2002, will allow Western's biological sciences department to expand its teaching, research and outreach activities," Jenkins said. “The grant underscores the importance of our field station in regard to education and research. NSF scrutinize the proposed educational/research merits and environmental issues of each grant, funding only those proposals which meet their high standards.

Jenkins said the new 4,200-square-foot dormitory/dining/meeting facility will be “green (environmentally) friendly and highly energy efficient.”

The structure will be constructed using Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) technology, endorsed by the Department of Energy's Energy Star Program. This technology offers a highly energy efficient construction method that can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 50 percent, Jenkins explained. The forms are comprised of modular blocks composed of recycled expanded polystyrene, which are reinforced with steel rebar and filled with concrete.

"This construction method uses one-fifth the lumber used in traditional wood framing and offers protection against high winds and tornados," Jenkins added.

The new fully handicap accessible single-story facility will provide housing for 48 people in two dormitory wings, each with its own bathroom and shower facilities. The center area will include a 1,200-square foot dining area with a vaulted ceiling and stone fireplace and a 200-square foot kitchen.

Faculty and students currently use a remodeled old farmhouse, named the Frank House, for instruction, laboratories and living space. A second phase of Kibbe improvements will include remodeling the Frank House into a modern teaching and laboratory facility.

Kibbe is unique as a field station because of its geographic location in the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS), an area of great ecological and economic importance which in 1986 was recognized as a nationally significant ecosystem by Congress, according to biological sciences department Chair Richard Anderson.

"Kibbe is the only teaching and research station on a 200-mile stretch of the UMRS, and because of the diversity of aquatic and terrestrial communities at the site, the station is an important venue for future studies of the influence of human activities on the UMRS and the unique ecosystems within the UMRS watershed," Anderson said.

The portion of the river associated with Kibbe and Pool 19, just upstream of the station, provides critical habitat to some 40 freshwater mussels and 150 species of fish, including the state endangered lake sturgeon, the rare blue sucker and paddlefish; as well as 90 species of breeding birds, 70 species of butterflies and some of the most rare diverse plant communities in the Midwest in hill prairie, sand prairies and oak savannas, added Anderson, who directed the Kibbe Field Station from 1987 to 2000.

Western established the Kibbe Life Sciences Station in 1964, after receiving a donation of 169 acres of land from Alice L. Kibbe, a Carthage College botanist from 1920-1956. The University also operates the station as a nature preserve to protect the unique natural features from unnecessary human disturbance. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) owns 734 acres adjacent to the station to provide a sanctuary for wintering populations of eagles, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) owns a 206-acre nature preserve and flood plain forest in the immediate vicinity of the station. Through a cooperative agreement, Western Illinois field station personnel manage 1,680 acres owned by WIU, TNC and IDNR.

More Kibbe Information

External and floor diagrams.

Exterior and interior diagrams of new Kibbe facility.

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