Officials eye Jan. opening
PLAQUEMINE — Construction of the $5.2 million Capital Area Technical College Westside Campus is about 65 percent complete, a college spokeswoman said Friday.
The 20,000-square-foot facility, behind Plaquemine High School on Tenant Road, is expected to welcome about 150 students seeking two-year degrees into its classrooms in January, CATC Regional Director Kay McDaniel said.
Hank Grace, director of the Iberville Chamber of Commerce, said Friday he views the new campus as the answer to area industries’ needs for a more-skilled workforce.
“It’s going to provide us with an opportunity to train our own folks and keep them at home with jobs available to them in Iberville Parish,” Grace said Friday.
“And now we’ll be able to advertise the technical college to outside industries looking to locate in the parish,” Grace said. “We’ll have a place now where we can train a workforce for them.”
Construction on the new campus began in March, said Martha Sealy, interim administrator for the westside technical college.
Although parish leaders previously said the project would get underway in September 2011, construction was held up by a series of unforeseen delays, Sealy said.
The new campus will replace the current westside technical college at 59125 Bayou Road.
Sealy said, as of now, there are no immediate plans for the current campus once the new facility opens.
The westside campus already offers its students instruction in licensed practical nursing, medical assistance, business studies and information technology, Sealy said.
Sealy said the new facility will feature wireless technology, state-of-the-art equipment and five multifunctional classrooms outfitted with desks that have retractable computers.
McDaniel said the current campus sustained more than $500,000 worth of damage during Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
“But by that time, plans were already under way to build the new campus,” she added.
McDaniel said a large portion of the construction costs are being financed by a $3.45 million bond allocation from the state.
In February 2011, Dow Chemical Co. donated another $1 million toward the project, McDaniel said.
The Iberville Parish School Board donated 10 acres of land as a site for the new college, while the Parish Council agreed to provide infrastructure serving the campus, she said.
McDaniel said the new campus is “built for expansion” and will allow the technical college system to add a new program, industrial maintenance technology, to its core set of curriculum offerings.
“That program is being added to meet the demands of the businesses and industry in the area,” she said.
Tuition for full-time students will still cost about $1,000 a semester once the new campus opens, McDaniel said.
CATC plans to host a grand opening celebration at the new facility in November, she added.
McDaniel said CATC will begin accepting students for the new campus about midway into the current semester.