WEIRTON - Following almost 10 months of construction and preparation, West Virginia Northern Community College officially opened its newest expansion Monday with a ribbon cutting on the college's Weirton campus.
College leaders were joined by local and state officials, as well as area residents in opening the $2.78 million, 10,000 square foot addition which now houses the mechatronics, surgical technology and respiratory care programs.
The project, designed by SMG Architects of Wheeling and built by Trushel Construction Co. of Weirton, broke ground May 24, 2011. It features two new classrooms and three laboratory areas.
"This is the culmination of a long journey," Weirton Campus Dean Mike Koon said.
WVNCC President Martin Olshinsky thanked many of those in attendance for their assistance in making the project possible, including Weirton native Vic Greco, an architect with SMG Architects who was involved in the design, and Dels. Randy Swartzmiller and Ronnie Jones, both D-Hancock, for helping to arrange for state funding for the construction.
Olshinsky noted the presence of several of the college's students in attendance Monday.
RIBBON CUTTING — Guests were greeted Monday prior to the official ribbon cutting for the new expansion of the Weirton campus of West Virginia Northern Community College. Taking part in the ceremony were, from left, James Skidmore, chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System; Martin Olshinsky, president of West Virginia Northern Community College; Del. Randy Swartzmiller and Del. Ronnie Jones, both D-Hancock; Mike Koon, Weirton campus dean; and Weirton Mayor George Kondik. -- Craig Howell
ALL SET UP — A few West Virginia Northern Community College students stand in the Weirton campus’ new surgical technology lab, among the features of the recently opened expansion. College officials held a grand opening for the new area Monday, providing tours of the facilities to guests. -- Craig Howell
"Hopefully, you enjoy the new facility," Olshinsky said. "Without your support, none of this would have happened either."
James Skidmore, chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, explained the two goals of the system are to provide opportunities for West Virginia residents to receive an education and to supply a skilled workforce.
"This addition does that," he said, explaining the college's mechatronics health sciences provide up-to-date training in growing occupational fields.
Skidmore said Northern Panhandle residents have a reputation throughout the state as hard working and dedicated people, and the growth at West Virginia Northern Community College and throughout the region will enhance that reputation.
The Weirton campus of West Virginia Northern Community College dates back to 1975 when it was a set of seven modular buildings set up for use as classrooms. The Redline Building, the first permanent structure named for former Weirton Steel President Jack Redline, was completed in 1982, with a second construction phase completed in 2000.
Koon explained planning for the new area began in 2002 following layoffs and the eventual sale of Weirton Steel to the International Steel Group, and eventually to ArcelorMittal.
During that time, the college expanded on its healthcare programs, including respiratory care and surgical technology, with mechatronics being devised in recent years to complement changes in the local manufacturing industries and the natural gas boom.
"They've been in makeshift labs for a couple of years," Koon said.
Tours of the new facilities were offered Monday, with dozens visiting the classrooms and labs, as well as meeting with students and instructors.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)