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HCC dedicates renovated facilities

February 27, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

When her floral design business withered with the economy around it, Heather Rumenkowski did what an increasing number of Americans are doing. She went back to school.

But after one semester at a state university, the 22 year-old began rethinking the thousands of dollars she would owe in student loans by graduation.

In December, after much soul-searching, she packed her bags and came home.

Now, instead of heading 70 miles down the road, the local resident is detouring her education to a campus just a few blocks from her own backyard.

She plans to enroll this fall in the nursing program at Hagerstown Community College.

Rumenkowski hadn't cemented the idea until Friday, when she visited HCC's newly renovated Career Programs Building and The Merle S. Elliott Continuing Education and Conference Center.

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With state-of-the-art science labs and equipment, she decided this would be the perfect place to continue her education.

"It's so much better than what was offered at the four-year school I was attending," she said. "I'm very impressed."

Rumenkowski was among a large group of people who attended dedication ceremonies and an open house Friday morning at the Career Programs Building.

The event marked the completion of a project about two years in the making.

Renovations of the Career Programs Building began in January 2007, HCC President Guy Altieri said. The first phase of the building was completed in January 2008, and construction of the second phase began.

The result, Altieri said, is "an extreme makeover that will provide faculty with the quality space they and their students deserve."

The recent renovation has taken the building from 76,003 square feet to nearly 90,000 square feet, he said.

While it's a beautiful building, what is most important, he said, "is what will go on inside its walls."

The Career Programs Building will be home to nursing, radiography and other health science programs, as well as the industrial technology program and HCC's Reprographic Services.

The facility also boasts The Merle S. Elliott Continuing Education and Conference Center, with five conference rooms, a tiered lecture hall that seats 66 students, science labs, an atrium, an expanded eatery and outdoor seating.

The center bears the name of Elliott, who has served on the HCC Board of Trustees for 23 years.

"I'm very honored and humbled," Elliott said. "But what is most important is the job training that will take place in this building. This community has a work force that has tremendous work ethic. Now, it will also have a work force that is well-trained."

Altieri said the total cost to renovate and equip the building was $21.8 million. Of that total, $10.8 million came from the state of Maryland, $8.7 million came from Washington County and $2.3 million was funded by the college and the HCC College Foundation.

The renovation was completed in conjunction with the loop road project, which was completed in October 2007. The project architect was Bushey Feight Morin Architects Inc. and construction was completed by C. William Hetzer Inc.

Project architect for the building renovation was Bushey Feight Morin Architects Inc. Construction was completed by Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. Inc.

The Career Programs Building has come a long way over the past 42 years, Altieri said. Originally built in 1967, it served as the Vocational-Technical Center, operated by the Washington County Board of Education. It became part of Hagerstown Junior College in 1975.

"For the next 40 years, it will continue to be a learning environment, changing lives for the better and educating, literally, tens of thousands of students," he said.

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