ACC expands with $5M addition

ALPENA -Alpena Community College is expanding this summer with a $5 million addition to the World Center for Concrete Technology. The new Electrical Power Technology Center will be an over 21,000 square foot expansion housing three classrooms, two technical labs, a computer lab, five faculty offices, an indoor high lab for power pole training, and a new garage to store and maintain equipment such as bucket trucks and a backhoe.

The state of Michigan granted a $2.5 million match to ACC for the Electrical Power Technology Center and after adding that money to funds from private financial resources, the college has raised about 97 percent of the $5 million project, with around $130,000 left to raise.

A $1 million bequest from the estate of Alpena businessman Ferris H. Werth, who will be the building’s namesake, a $250,000 Besser Foundation challenge grant, which will provide a one-to-one match for every dollar donated, and numerous gifts from individuals, businesses, foundations and alumni have graciously supported the growth of utility technology programs at the college through contributions.

“There has been a lot of interest and support from the community,” ACC Foundation Executive Director Penny Boldrey said. “Gifts have been in all shapes and sizes, and we are continuing to accept gifts to meet our goal.”

Boldrey said the college is right where it wanted to be on its time line for the project.

“We’re continuing to raise funds to meet the maximum number for the state grant to match,” Boldrey said. “The college has had great success so far, and some of the gifts have been equipment needed for the new center.”

The Building a Powerful Future campaign started in March 2013, and has been successful with the help of community members and volunteers.

New courses such as a renewable electrical energy, electrical grid, and emerging trends in electrical power hope to be offered with the expansion and addition of the center. The new equipment and lab training space available will allow students to work in a safe environment while climbing power poles and installing electrical equipment.

The utility technician program started in 1990, and has a 24-year history of preparing students for careers while providing skilled employees to the electrical utility industry. Today the program offers students two options: a one-year vocational certificate, or a two-year associate in applied science degree, each of which prepare students to construct, install and repair electrical distribution, telephone and CATV transmission systems.

Due to high demand for these programs and high graduate employment numbers, there is a waiting list of applicants at ACC due to inadequate lab space to support new programs in the field.

With the expansion and renovation to the World Center for Concrete Technology, the college will be placing two successful flagship technical programs side by side, and will have the capacity to meet its growing student interest in the electrical field.

Groundbreaking for the Electrical Power Technology Center will take place in early April, and college President Olin Joynton said he is excited for the building to begin.

“The state of Michigan was satisfied with our construction plans, and the college published requests for proposals to subcontractors for the different parts of the job,” Joynton said. “From there we will look at the cost and requirements met and decide what would be best.

Bids have been read and are being reviewed for the many projects involved in building the center, and Joynton said the college has enough money to move forward with the project and start lining up projects to be completed.

“We have a little more fundraising to do to meet our goal,” Joynton said. “We have to spend all the money we have raised, and then the state will start reimbursing us for the project after we have started.”

Bids for projects such as painting, mechanical, plumbing and heating, electrical, fire protection, drywall, structural steel and masonry, along with many other building necessities have been submitted and are being reviewed by a committee to find out what would be the best choice for the college.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.