NWACC re­vis­ing plan for fa­cil­ity

Wash­ing­ton County Cen­ter to be built next to ball­park

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAVE PEROZEK

BEN­TONVILLE — Plans for North­west Arkansas Com­mu­nity Col­lege’s Wash­ing­ton County Cen­ter are evolv­ing, as of­fi­cials ex­plore pro­gram­ming changes and a smaller, less ex­pen­sive fa­cil­ity than what has been dis­cussed in the past.

Eve­lyn Jor­gen­son, col­lege pres­i­dent, gave an up­date on the pro­ject Fri­day at the an­nual sum­mer re­treat meet­ing of the Board of Trus­tees.

“I don’t have any doubt in my mind we’re go­ing to be able to start con­struc­tion next year,” Jor­gen­son said. “I re­ally feel good about be­ing able to do that.”

The col­lege owns 20 acres next to Ar­vest Ball­park in Spring­dale where the cen­ter will be built. A fundrais­ing ef­fort is un­der­way to pay for con­struc­tion.

The vi­sion for sev­eral years has been a build­ing of about 50,000 square feet that would cost $15 mil­lion. The col­lege has raised $3.6 mil­lion for the pro­ject.

Jor­gen­son said Fri­day, how­ever, the cur­rent cur­ricu­lum plan would re­quire only be­tween 25,000 and 35,000 square feet at a cost of be­tween $10 mil­lion and $12 mil­lion.

The col­lege had been plan­ning to put its con­struc­tion tech­nol­ogy pro­gram in the build­ing, but that pro­gram in­stead will be housed in an­other new build­ing the col­lege has planned for its main cam­pus in Ben­tonville.

“That will al­low us to re­ally pare down the size of the [Wash­ing­ton County Cen­ter], de­crease the cost of it and be able to move much more quickly on this pro­ject,” Jor­gen­son said.

The col­lege in­tends to put nurs­ing and other health-re­lated pro­grams in the cen­ter, some­thing of­fi­cials didn’t think was fea­si­ble un­til re­cently. That’s be­cause the col­lege had been told by its ac­cred­it­ing body nurs­ing classes couldn’t be of­fered at the cen­ter with­out hir­ing a nurs­ing di­rec­tor specif­i­cally for that cam­pus, Jor­gen­son said.

The ac­cred­it­ing body now says the col­lege may of­fer those nurs­ing classes

un­der the di­rec­tion of its di­rec­tor on the main cam­pus. The ar­range­ment is ideal be­cause the Arkansas Chil­dren’s North­west hos­pi­tal, ex­pected to open next year, will be a short walk from the cen­ter, Jor­gen­son said.

The ma­jor­ity of the cen­ter’s space will be ded­i­cated to gen­eral ed­u­ca­tion classes. Tim Cor­nelius, the col­lege’s vice pres­i­dent of ca­reer and work­force ed­u­ca­tion, said only about 15 per­cent of the space will be for health pro­fes­sions.

“We know the de­mand is there” for nurses, Cor­nelius said.

Classes for emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cians and health in­for­ma­tion man­age­ment also will be held at the cen­ter, Cor­nelius said.

The col­lege’s foun­da­tion is rais­ing money for con­struc­tion. The amount raised has re­mained at $3.6 mil­lion since Novem­ber.

Meredith Brunen, the foun­da­tion’s for­mer di­rec­tor, left for an­other job last fall. The col­lege “lost mo­men­tum” on the fundrais­ing cam­paign when Brunen left, Jor­gen­son said. An­netta Tirey, who had worked for Tyson Foods for 22 years, was hired to re­place Brunen.

The foun­da­tion’s board re­cently ap­proved hir­ing a con­sul­tant to help “re-en­er­gize and jump-start” the cam­paign, Jor­gen­son said.

The col­lege is so­lic­it­ing bids for ar­chi­tec­tural ser­vices for the cen­ter. Bids are due July 28. Jor­gen­son said she ex­pects an ar­chi­tect will be cho­sen by the end of Au­gust.

“It will be nice to have the ac­tual draw­ing of a build­ing that we can go out and talk to donors about, and show them what that build­ing would look like and what would be in­volved,” Jor­gen­son said.

The col­lege en­rolled 7,761 stu­dents dur­ing the fall 2016 se­mes­ter. Of those stu­dents, 2,841, or 36.6 per­cent, lived in Wash­ing­ton County, ac­cord­ing to col­lege fig­ures.

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