- Associated Press - Sunday, August 17, 2014

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - Two hundred volunteers have traveled to Ellendale, North Dakota - many from great distances - to help with major building projects underway at Trinity Bible College.

About three-quarters of those volunteers are members of Assemblies of God Church, project manager Jim Shroll told the Aberdeen American News (http://bit.ly/1r7mDmu ). The Ellendale school is affiliated with Assemblies of God.

The battalions of volunteers include church groups from Virginia and Missouri, as well as Watertown and Rapid City. The Virginia group included a former U.S. Navy leader. Vernon Clark, a former chief of naval operations, spent five days in Ellendale with a group from Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Clark is a former member of that church, Shroll said. The retired admiral, who is 69, spoke one night while in Ellendale.

Shroll estimates the volunteers are saving the school about $300,000 in labor. Some of the groups are also helping to purchase building materials.

Four projects are in progress at the Ellendale school. The Rev. Dan Kuno, the college’s vice president of advancement, said the work is a 30-month project, and about 18 months remain.

One of the projects involves remodeling Davidson Hall, which is still known to many longtime Ellendale residents as Dakota Hall. That three-story building, which has been dormant in recent years, is becoming Trinity’s new administration building. It will hold offices for faculty, staff and administrators. The remodeling will extend from the basement all the way to the roof, Kuno said.

The college is also building a new structure, which will be called the Prayer Chapel. In addition to a chapel, it will include two lecture halls, a multipurpose room, two connecting corridors and an atrium. The building will total 13,000 square feet.

In addition, a new roof has been added to the armory, which will become a student life center, and the president’s house is being remodeled.

Work on Davidson Hall began last year. That project and the Prayer Chapel are scheduled to be completed in fall 2015, Shroll said. Forty-three volunteers arrived last year to help, he said.

The work is part of a rejuvenation process for the college, Kuno said.

The changes were envisioned by college president Paul Alexander, who originally wanted to create an open-air plaza, before the rough, North Dakota winters were factored in. The idea for corridors connecting campus buildings is to help protect students from the winter. Alexander became the school’s president in 2012.

Many of the volunteers are taking vacation time to come to Ellendale, and making a missions trip out of it, Kuno said.

The workers included 20 people from North Dakota Teen Challenge in Mandan, North Dakota. That organization is a faith-based residential recovery program for people battling with drug and alcohol problems. The people in the Teen Challenge group were hard workers, Shroll said.

Some of the volunteers are skilled laborers, who are retired, Kuno said. Some of them are staying in recreational vehicles, some in a Trinity residence hall.

Some volunteers come in the winter, but most arrive in the summer, Kuno said.

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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