BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — More choices for higher learning are available at the Morgan County Center of Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, and more students are taking advantage of the easy commute.
About 50 Morgan County residents have taken courses since the center opened for the fall semester last August, said Blue Ridge CTC President Peter Checkovich, and he hopes to see it grow to at least 100 students this year.
The Morgan County Blue Ridge campus is in the Pines Opportunity Center, 109 War Memorial Drive, the site of the old War Memorial Hospital, on Fairfax Street in Berkeley Springs.
About 80 percent of the classes are of an “occupational nature,” Checkovich said, to help students receive training for jobs that are in demand, but the center also offers credited courses that are transferable toward a four-year baccalaureate degree.
“Traveling was an issue,” said Berkeley Springs resident Katina Butts, who had to drive to the Martinsburg campus last year for courses in psychology and English. Now Butts is enrolled at the center and taking four courses there.
With less driving time now, “it’s so much easier,” she said.
One reason college officials are hoping for increased enrollment is the new Animal Care Nursing Assistant Training course beginning in March, which will prepare students to assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians in animal care facilities.
People have been calling the school to learn when the course begins, said Morgan County Center Director Carol Rothstein.
The training course will be held from March 12 to June 29 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes veterinary terminology and office procedures, animal restraint, examination room procedures and safety, pharmacology, surgery, small animal nursing, laboratory and radiology procedures.
Also, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program that will begin in the summer or fall was requested by War Memorial Hospital officials, Checkovich said. Students will be trained and ready for work after completing the eight-week program.
These are courses that “Morgan County residents need and are asking for,” Rothstein said.
Blue Ridge CTC has renovated the building to include five classrooms and a computer lab, Rothstein said. The kitchen/café will be renovated further to set up a kitchen for a future master chef series that will include culinary education classes, and a butchering class that will be geared toward hunting season.
A Serve Safe food safety course will be offered in April to educate food servers. Students who complete the 16-hour workshop will receive a nationally recognized certificate, said Rothstein.
Many of the classes are in the evening to accommodate residents who have jobs during the day, such as the phlebotomy technician course that begins Feb. 12 and an introduction to photography class that starts in March.
An evening introductory class on robotics for high school students will begin in April.
Checkovich said they are working with the Morgan County Board of Education to provide college-level courses in English, math and mechatronics during the day for Berkeley Springs High School students.
“As the word gets out, we will grow,” Checkovich said.
Rothstein grew up in Morgan County, graduated from Berkeley Springs High School and traveled to colleges in Frostburg, Md., Hagerstown and Shepherdstown, W.Va., so she is aware of the problems associated with driving a distance to attend classes.
“I am trying to make it easier for Morgan County residents,” she said.
Rothstein said she is available to answer any questions and can be reached at 304-260-4380, ext. 2421.
“Carol has a passion to help people reach their goals,” Checkovich said.
“Our folks will be trained for an occupation — it’s great to have a community college that they can call their own in Morgan County.” said Bill Clark, director of the Morgan County Economic Development Authority.