By William P. Thompson
It was more than 15 years in the planning stages, but a brand new $90,000 campus house for Presbyterian students at Eastern New Mexico University opened its doors Tuesday at the corner of South Avenue K and West University.
Millie Boyle of First Presbyterian Church in Portales said a fund was started years ago when the parents of state senator Stuart Ingle put $20,000 in a special fund before they died.
“It was the Betty and Cress Ingle fund,” Boyle said. “It wouldn’t have started without Betty and Cress. We knew we had that money and then Phil Million (a member of First Presbyterian) and I finally said we wanted to get this accomplished.”
Boyle said more than 20 volunteers pitched in with labor and financial contributions.
“The volunteers saved us thousands of dollars,” Boyle said.
Shannon Webster, executive presbyter of the Sierra Blanca Presbytery which oversees Presbyterian churches in southern and eastern New Mexico, said the national Presbyterian General Assembly contributed another $40,000 to the project which began in 2005 after the old Presbyterian Campus House was torn down and literally hauled away.
Kelsey Jaynes, co-owner of Garden Source in Portales, was one of the volunteers who donated some landscaping labor to beautify the exterior of the new house.
“It (the house) helps students who are Presbyterians and gives them a place to hang out with other Presbyterian students.” Jaynes said.
Greg Hobbs, an elder of First Presbyterian Church, estimated the square footage of the house at about 1,200 square feet. He said the house is currently used for university religion classes, and that although now there are only four students who make regular use of the house, he expects that number to grow now that Presbyterian students have a new house with which to attract students.
Terence Tonye Biaga, an ENMU student from the African nation of Cameroon, said he envisions visiting the new house once a week when school is in session.
“I think there are many more students who will come here now that a house like this exists,” he said.
Church members said the house is being used infrequently now until the end of the spring term, but next Fall it will become more of a place in which Presbyterian students can socialize and “drop in” from time to time.