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Bob Bothel, right, director of the Lifelong Learning Center, shows off the library at the new Camp Hansen Community Services, Library and Education Center during a grand opening Wednesday.

Bob Bothel, right, director of the Lifelong Learning Center, shows off the library at the new Camp Hansen Community Services, Library and Education Center during a grand opening Wednesday. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — A new two-story facility, where servicemembers can do everything from receive financial counseling to take college courses, officially opened its doors at a Wednesday ribbon-cutting ceremony here.

Col. Tim Learn, camp commander, called the Camp Hansen Community Services, Library and Education Center a state-of-the-art facility that greatly enhances the quality of life of those stationed at the camp.

“This is magnificent,” Learn said. “In the late 1970s and early ’80s, there was no quality of life, it was survival. Now we have top quality.”

The new building houses five offices that once were scattered throughout the camp — most of them, Learn said, in buildings that should have been leveled long ago.

Now sharing the new building are the education center, community center, library, Red Cross office and Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.

The Community Center offers relocation assistance, financial counseling, sponsorship program and pre- and post-deployment assistance, said Bill Linnehan, Personal Services chief. It also runs cultural programs and marriage package assistance and offers an expanded loan locker.

“It’s a one-stop shop,” he said.

Bob Bothel, Lifelong Learning Center director, said the new library and education center are among the Marine Corps’ finest Lifelong Learning Centers.

The library, at 15,000 square feet, has five times the square footage of the old one, he said. It also has one conference room that may be reserved and five quiet study rooms. The library houses more than 17,000 books, 1,500 videos, 860 CDs, 450 DVDs, 125 magazine titles and 103 PlayStation games. It also has an Infocus machine for PowerPoint presentations and a microfiche interface machine for computers.

The education center also has been greatly improved, Bothel said. It now has four 30-person classrooms, a state-of-the-art science lab, a computer classroom that doubles as a media learning center and a learning resource center for professional military education.

The education center also has a full-time education technician and three-day-a-week guidance counselor, Bothel said. Representatives from the University of Maryland University College and Central Texas College, who offer distance-learning courses, also are in the center three days a week.

Bothel said he believes education enrollment will increase because the new building is centrally located and next to the dining facility. He also noted that the Marine Corps now is paying 100 percent of tuition; students must pay only for textbooks and registration fees, if any.

“We really believe the facility is going to attract Marines,” Bothel said. “The Marine Corps is solidly committed to education and quality of life for the troops.”

For more information, contact the library at 623-4994. For information on education, contact the Education Center at 623-3013.

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