Sapp Plaza at Peru State Dedicated During Homecoming Festivities
Peru State College officials recognized several individuals for their contributions to Southeast Nebraska and the college Saturday, Sept. 29, during the college’s 92nd annual Homecoming celebration.
State Sen. Lavon Heidemann and his wife, Robin, of Elk Creek, were the first to be recognized. During the 2012 Legislative session, Heidemann led the effort in the Legislature towards appropriating $7.5 million towards renovation of the Oak Bowl football stadium.
Bill and Lee Sapp of Sapp Bros. Travel Centers and Petroleum were recognized for their pledge of $500,000 to the Oak Bowl renovation.
Eliza Morgan Hall, the newly renovated women’s residence hall, was dedicated. The commons area between the Peru State Student Center and Morgan Hall was dedicated as Sapp Plaza.
The program was on the patio in front of the Jindra Fine Arts Building.
Heidemann Praised for His Leadership in the Legislature
Hanson thanked Heidemann for leading the appropriation towards renovation of the Oak Bowl. It is the largest single appropriation by state officials in Peru State College’s 145-year history. The appropriation requires a $1.5 million match by college officials.
“The Oak Bowl is one of the most beautiful settings in small college football. The facility is a different story,” said Dan Hanson, Peru State president.
The Peru State president praised Heidemann’s leadership in the Legislature the past eight years. Hanson also praised Heidemann’s service as chair of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. Heidemann is leaving the Legislature because of term limits.
“I thank Lavon for his diligent work for Nebraskans and his leadership in securing this funding for Peru State College. This would not have occurred without Lavon’s strong leadership and his earned success in Nebraska. Your support of higher education and investment in Southeast Nebraska are critical to Peru State College’s future and success. Thank you for helping us make our Oak Bowl dreams a reality,” Hanson said.
Total cost of the renovation, including the fieldhouse, is $14 million. College officials have worked to generate private gifts and contributions. The first phase of construction on the renovation will begin this fall.
“What a beautiful day on a beautiful campus. I’m honored to be a part of this,” Heidemann said.
He said he informed his fellow state senators about Peru State College. That included taking several senators to the campus.
“To know Peru is to love Peru. This is one accomplishment I’ll really be proud of. Over the last eight years, I’ve been cognizant of what Peru State College and the state college system does for Nebraska. That makes it easy to support,” Heidemann said.
The Sapp family have become an important partner in the Oak Bowl renovation, he said.
“Without those partnerships, this couldn’t happen,” Heidemann said.
“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve in the Legislature. Thank you for being a part of Peru State College and part of this project that is moving forward,” he concluded.
In the morning, the Heidemanns served as grand marshals of the Homecoming parade down Peru’s Fifth Street.
Sapp Brothers Honor Their Mother, Sisters
The $500,000 contribution from the Sapps is the largest single non-estate contribution in Peru State College history. The brothers’ contribution honored their mother, Emilie Hubka Sapp and their sisters, Veloura Sapp Barnardt and Zelma Sapp Drake. All three attended Peru State College and taught in Nebraska country schools.
“Bill and Lee attribute much of their success to the strength, love, faith and hard work of their mother and sisters,” Hanson said.
“We’re good Nebraskans and we sure love Peru State College. This is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful for us and you,” Lee Sapp said.
Zelma Sapp Drake said she was honored to have her name associated with the project.
Bill Sapp said his father met his mother at Peru State College.
“We’re blessed to have Peru State College in Southeast Nebraska. It’s a huge asset to Southeast Nebraska,” Bill Sapp said.
Besides their contribution to the Oak Bowl renovation, Bill and Lee Sapp also contributed a bench near T.J. Majors Hall and the School of Education. The bench honors Ilma Gottula, who began teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Gottula attended Peru State College. She is still a substitute teacher in Tecumseh.
“I want to thank them for investing in the future of our college, our students and Southeast Nebraska. Your gift is a wonderful way to honor your beloved mother and sisters, who dedicated so much of their lives to teaching others,” Hanson said.
Dedication of Renovated Women’s Residence Hall
Stan Carpenter, chancellor of the Nebraska State College System, thanked the Sapps for their generosity and the Legislature for their appropriation towards the Oak Bowl renovation.
Carpenter thanked the Nebraska State College Board of Trustees for sharing a great deal of love and support to Peru State College.
“They do it without pay. They give of their free time. They love the Nebraska State College System. They’re mindful of the tradition and history of Peru State College. The renovations have not changed the lovely nature of Peru State College,” Carpenter said.
Trustees Bob Engles of Auburn and Gary Bieganski of Chadron attended the recognition and dedication. Also attending was Joseph Fauver of Springfield, Peru State College student representative on the trustees.
Carpenter thanked Hanson for his leadership at Peru State College. Hanson thanked Carpenter for his support of the college.
“We have made a concerted effort over the past decade to assist with and support campus improvement projects at Peru State College. In doing so, we have been mindful of the need to preserve the character and tradition of this campus,” Carpenter said.
He said the results of the efforts are evident across the campus. Other improvements included Hoyt Science Hall, the college library and the Jindra Fine Arts Building.
Carpenter said the year-long, $5.5 million renovation of Eliza Morgan Hall was worth the wait because of the new amenities.
Morgan came to Peru State College from Lininia, N.Y. in 1872 as a preceptress, a combination of housemother and dean of women. The women’s residence hall named in her honor opened in 1929.
Carpenter thanked the trustees for their support of Peru State College, their guidance through the renovation project and commitment to the betterment of the campus of Nebraska’s first college.
Also recognized during the program were former U.S. Rep. Doug Bereuter and his wife, Louise and former state Sen. Floyd Vrtiska of Table Rock. Vrtiska’s son, Kim, attended.
Bereuter served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979 to 2004. He served as president of the Asia Foundation after leaving Congress.