Blue Ridge Community and Technical College celebrates new campus in Martinsburg

August 03, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Blue Ridge Community and Technical College President Peter G. Checkovich speaks before the ribbon cutting ceremony.
By Matthew Umstead

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — More than 100 people joined Blue Ridge Community and Technical College leaders Friday to celebrate the completion of an $18.2 million campus project with ribbon-cutting and flag-raising ceremonies.

Staged in front of the college’s new 55,000-square-foot academic/administrative building on the 46-acre campus, the celebration highlighted a milestone in the growth of the school, which expects about 4,400 students to enroll for the fall semester.

“This has been a long time in the making,” Blue Ridge CTC President Peter G. Checkovich said. “Yeah, we’ve worked on this for a couple years, but really, it’s been a vision for the last 20.”

Checkovich recounted the college’s growth since starting in 1974 on the campus of what then was Shepherd College to the school’s move in 2001 to Martinsburg, where it leased space in the former Blue Ridge Outlets shopping center complex.

Construction of the three-story building for the school’s new headquarters at 13650 Apple Harvest Drive was made possible by $13.5 million provided through a bond issue authorized by the West Virginia Legislature. Lawmakers separately allocated another $3 million for purchase of the new campus property, and Checkovich said the college used about $2 million in reserve funds for the project.

The building is the first of four that have been envisioned for the new campus, Checkovich said after the ceremonies.

The next building planned for the campus as part of the college’s strategic plan is envisioned to provide space for science, technology, engineering, math and health sciences, Checkovich said.

James Skidmore, chancellor of the state Community and Technical College System, said he couldn’t give a time frame for when additional bond funding might be made available for the project.

“I think the Legislature’s aware that we need additional facilities ... but we also know we’re facing some fairly lean budgetary times,” Skidmore said. “We would like to have (another bond issue) tomorrow.”

Checkovich said the new building can hold as many as 800 students for classes at any one time.

While touring the new campus Friday, nursing student Dawn Schill of Martinsburg said the facilities are “awesome.”

“I love it,” Schill said. “All the parking — that’s the best part — the absolute best.”

Given enrollment gains and projections of continued growth, Checkovich said he expects the college will outgrow the building very quickly.

The college was pressed for space when it moved from the first-floor space it leased from Berkeley County.

Berkeley County Council President William L. “Bill” Stubblefield said the college became more than just a tenant over the years, saluting the school as “a good friend and good neighbor” to the county.

With the opening of the new campus building Monday, Checkovich said the college now has about 150,000 square feet of educational space in the Eastern Panhandle. Facilities include the school’s tech center south of Martinsburg, a new Morgan County campus, and facilities at Quad/Graphics and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

Richard Snyder, the faculty representative on the college’s board of governors, said he and fellow colleagues were ready to move into the new campus as soon as the school broke ground for the building last year.

The new building is “spectacular ... even the restrooms,” said board chairwoman Tina Combs, prompting laughter among the audience.

Combs also saluted the college administrative staff and Checkovich, who beamed throughout the ceremony.

“Pete’s a proud papa,” said Skidmore, who extended greetings on behalf of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

After the ceremony, Skidmore said it was remarkable that Blue Ridge CTC was able to stay on budget.

“Based on some other projects, that was an accomplishment,” Skidmore said.

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