Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Tuesday, May 24, for a $2.1 million expansion of classroom space at the Weirton campus of West Virginia Northern Community College.
Included in the 9,590 square foot building addition at 150 Park Ave. will be two classrooms and three laboratory classrooms that will be used for health sciences classes and for Mechatronics, which awards an associate in applied science degree in a new program designed to prepare individuals to be electrical and mechanical maintenance technicians.
The addition comprises two floors and has an option to use solar panels on the roof, making it a green building. The construction work is expected to be completed by March of next year.
Dr. Martin J. Olshinsky, Northern’s president, said, “The college community is very pleased that the Weirton campus is growing for the benefit of the entire region. The health sciences have been popular with our students and new facilities will be welcomed. Mechatronics will advance the state’s initiatives involving workforce development and is particularly viable for Weirton. The Steelworker for the Future program is an option in the Mechatronics program offered in partnership with Arcelor Mittal Steel Corporation.”
Mike Koon, Northern’s vice president of economic and workforce development, is a Weirton resident who helped spearhead the Steelworker for the Future program. He explained Mechatronics students learn to install, replace, troubleshoot and repair equipment used in manufacturing facilities. “All technical courses have an intensive hands-on lab component as students learn skills in electrical systems, motor control, hydraulics and pneumatics, programmable logic controllers, instrumentation, workplace safety and problem solving and teamwork,” Koon said.
Steve Lippiello, chief financial officer/vice president of administrative services, has worked closely with Victor Greco of SMG Architects, Wheeling, and with Mark Trushel of Trushel Construction, the Weirton firm which was awarded the bid for the project. Lippiello said, “Everything is interchangeable in the new addition. The space has multiple uses; it’s not just stagnant. One of our goals was to maximize the flexibility of the space.”
West Virginia Northern Community College was created by action of the former West Virginia Board of Regents May 9, 1972, which became effective July 1, 1972. The college was created from the former Hancock County Branch and the Wheeling Campus of West Liberty State College. In Weirton, classes were offered at Weir High School during the evenings. By 1975, the college acquired land and modular buildings in Weirton. The first phase of a permanent instructional facility was constructed in 1982, with the second phase to replace the modular buildings constructed in 1999‑2000.
Participating in the groundbreaking as representatives of the college were Olshinsky, Koon, Lippiello, Dr. Vicki Riley, vice president of academic affairs; Janet Fike, vice president of student services; and Gus Monezis and Dr. Darrell Cummings, members of the WVNCC Board of Governors. Expected to break ground as representatives of state and local governments were Weirton City Manager Gary DuFour, State Sens. Orphy Klempa and Jack Yost, Hancock County Dels. Randy Swartzmiller and Ronnie Jones, Hancock County Commissioners Dan Greathouse and Mike Swartzmiller and Brooke County Del. Roy Givens.