The long-anticipated opening of New River Community and Technical College’s Raleigh County campus in Beaver is finally at hand. After numerous delays triggered by the recession that began in 2008, the imposing new facility located on University Drive adjacent to the Erma Byrd Center opened for the spring semester on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
“This is a milestone event in the history of New River Community and Technical College,” said President L. Marshall Washington. “The students, faculty and staff of our Raleigh County campus have long made the best of cramped and inadequate space. Now at last we have a real home of our own, and it is spectacular.”
The 68,000 square-foot-building includes an allied health wing that will be shared with other institutions that offer two- and four-year programs in nursing, medical assisting, EMT and exercise physiology. There are 10 classrooms, one science lab and three allied health labs for use by New River CTC. The entry features a dramatic circular two-story atrium, around which are arrayed offices for student services such as admissions, financial aid, career services, the Student Success Center and the registrar. The first floor also contains classrooms, computer labs, faculty offices and a student lounge. The second floor houses the college’s central administrative and business offices.
The new facility replaces leased space in the Harper Industrial Park in Beckley that has served as the Beckley/Raleigh County campus and administrative headquarters since New River CTC was crea4ted by the legislature in 2003.
The prominence of the new location, which is visible from Interstate 64, will greatly enhance awareness of and accessibility to the college. The location also affords sweeping views of the New River Gorge, providing a beautiful backdrop for faculty, staff and students. There is room on the site to construct additional buildings as the Raleigh County campus grows. The Advanced Technology Center ion Ghent and the newly acquired USDA property are also part of the Raleigh County campus.
Dr. Washington, president of New River CTC, states, “We have begun to expand our collaboration with the Erma Byrd Center to increase higher education offerings for citizens in southern West Virginia.”
The long road to the opening of the new campus began in 2008, when the West Virginia legislature passed the first-ever bond issue designated solely for community college construction. $13.5 million was allocated to New River CTC for construction of the new campus. In addition, the Higher Education Policy Commission received a $3.96 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Grant to build an Allied Health Building at the Beckley Higher Education Foundation site. The two projects were to be designed and built together.
The bonds were expected to be sold in the fall of 2008, but the dramatic downturn in the economy that started in October of that year delayed the sale. The bonds were finally sold in 2009, but by the time the architect was selected, the design was completed and approved, and the project was bid it was more than $1 million over the estimated budget. The project was then “value engineered” to bring it within budget, a process that took many months, and site preparation finally began in late 2013.
The building was designed by E.T. Boggess Architects of Princeton, WV and MBAJ Architecture of North Carolina. The contractor was Paramount Builders, LLC.
“Although the delays in getting to this day have been frustrating, the collaboration, patience and care that has been taken in making sure that this project was done right will pay dividends from the moment the first students walk through the doors. Our students in southern West Virginia deserve the best, and we are at last able to offer facilities that are equal to the quality of the educational programs we offer,” Washington said.
New River Community and Technical College serves nine counties in southeastern West Virginia from the Greenbrier Valley campus (Lewisburg), Mercer County campus (Princeton), Nicholas County campus (Summersville), and the Raleigh County campus/administrative offices (Beaver/Beckley).