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OC in midst of a building phase [Odessa American, Texas :: ]
[June 28, 2014]

OC in midst of a building phase [Odessa American, Texas :: ]

(Odessa American (TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 28--Some college students go through a phase while away at school.

Some college campuses do, too. Exhibit A: Odessa College.

But OC's phases can be found in construction projects around campus as devised in Vision 2015. The projects at OC were made possible through a passage of a bond election in November 2010.

"We had done a facilities condition assessment in 2009 or 2010 and many of the buildings on this campus were 60 years old," said Virginia Chisum, OC vice president for business affairs. "Unlike public universities, four-year universities, we cannot use any state funds for buildings or maintenance of buildings. It all has to come from local support, from taxpayer support. It's a state law." The $68.5 million bond issue for Vision 2015 is on schedule, Chisum said. The vision is dubbed the 7-7-7 Plan, because there were seven demolitions, seven new constructions and seven major renovations, Chisum said.

"And we're about two-thirds of the way finished with it, the whole master plan," Chisum said.

OC's president is excited about the projects at the school.

"I am very pleased and excited for the community and the students in our area," OC President Greg Williams said. "The improved facilities will allow us to make an even larger impact and will allow us to serve more students even more effectively. We want the learners of our community to know that college is challenging, fun, affordable and accessible at Odessa College." Crews are working on Wilkerson Hall, which is a shell now and is being renovated. Wilkerson Hall is one of the busiest academic buildings on campus and construction will be completed in December, Chisum said.

On the north side of University Boulevard, crews tore down two old annex buildings that were used for adult literacy and adult basic education. Dirt work has started on that site for construction of a continuing education center. The Student Union Building will be demolished this summer and a new, two-story building, called Spur Phase II, will go there.

The Spur Phase I building -- a one-story building that houses campus police, information technology, copy center and mail center -- was completed last fall. Spur II will join that building and have the book store, testing center and student health clinic on the first floor and administrative space and other business offices on the second floor, Chisum said. That building will begin construction in September or October, after demolition, and will be ready for occupancy probably in January 2016.

Also this summer, in July, OC starts installation of signage, Chisum said. The installation will continue for several months.

"After that, we have three more renovations," she said, explaining that includes part of the Electronics Technology Building for computer science, part of the Composite Technology Building for nursing, EMS/paramedic and Allied Health programs and the Vehicle Technology Center, which will be housed at the Sewell Ford building on 8th Street.

"And at that point, we should be able to breathe a little bit," Chisum said, laughing.

The college finished the Wood Building of Math and Science in December and the Saulsbury Campus Center opened in April. In May 2013, the college opened the 13,000-square feet Culinary Arts Center. The Fire Training Center opened in January.

The construction is partially in response for the increasing population but also because of aging and functionally obsolete buildings, Chisum said.

OC has had a number of private donations for Vision 2015, Chisum said. The Wood Family Foundation and the Saulsbury Family each gave $3 million. The college received a $1 million anonymous gift. Sewell Ford donated a building and Southwest Bank made a "sizable donation" for a naming opportunity inside the Saulsbury Campus Center, Chisum said.

"We have a number of those opportunities available," she said.

Chisum said the college has received positive feedback about the school's projects.

"It's just been a fast and furious last three years, but it's been a lot of fun," she said. "It's exciting knowing that we're changing things for decades to come, for the students to come." Like Chisum, Williams said the public feedback has been positive on the college's construction project, adding the community is taking notice.

"Our goal is to be the best community college in the nation, and these renovations are helping us to get that done," Williams said. "I believe our community is very proud of its beautiful and award-winning community college." "So far, we're on time and under budget -- you can't beat that," said OC board member Ray Ann Zant.

She likes the campus' appearance and said the campus has more room now to accommodate its growth.

"The buildings are beautiful," she said.

OC officials will eventually have to acquire the space now occupied by Endless Horizons music store on campus, facing Andrews Highway.

"We own the property, but when we purchased it, it was encumbered by a long-term lease to the operators," Chisum said. "We will honor that as long as we can. So, really, we have need of the property, but we don't have any immediate plans." She said OC officials would like to get that space and use it for additional parking for the Jack Rodgers Fine Arts Center, Deaderick Auditorium and Deaderick Hall.

"We really have not incorporated that area into any of our Vision 2015, except for the unknown as to when we could acquire that property," she said.

Contact Don Munsch on Twitter at OAInteractive, on Facebook at OAInteractive or call 333-7641.

___ (c)2014 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) Visit the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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