New PRCC STEM center named for retired instructor, public servant

Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:10 PM CST
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POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - A renovated $5.5 million science building at Pearl River Community College has been named in honor of a retired, longtime instructor and former chair of the science department at PRCC.

A ribbon was cut during a ceremony Tuesday to officially open the James W. Barnes STEM Center.

It includes a renovated science building, which was originally built in 1966, and a new annex with several labs and new virtual education technology for distance learning.

Barnes, who attended the ceremony, retired from PRCC in 1999 after teaching for 37 years. He was also a former head of PRCC’s science department and a former one-term mayor of Poplarville.

Construction work began in the summer of 2019 and took about 18 months to complete.

Students have been using the labs in the new annex for several months.

Barnes says he’s honored to have the building named for him.

“It’s kind of indescribable,” he said. “My wife and I were home when we got the call from one of the trustees that had served with me in the city and I don’t know who was more excited, him or us and all we could say was ‘wow, wow, I can’t believe it.’”

Barnes also served two terms on the Poplarville Board of Aldermen.

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