PSC Groundbreaking

Kate Vansant, assistant to West Virginia University's associate vice president of facilities and services, talks with Potomac State College Campus Provost Kerry Odell and WVU Senior Associate Provost Russell Dean Tuesday morning after an official groundbreaking ceremony for a new dormitory in Keyser.

John A. Bone
Cumberland Times-News

KEYSER - Although the blacktop has already been broken and the dirt piled high in the parking lot beside the Dana G. Lough Gymnasium, Potomac State College held a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday to celebrate construction of a new 355-bed residence hall.

Construction crews from NDC Manheim LLC of Pittsburgh were not wasting any time in starting work on the $19 million project - the first of several improvements planned at the college over the next few years.

"As you can see behind me, they have already erected a fence and begun pushing dirt," PSC Dean of Student Affairs Bill Letrent told the crowd gathered on the A Street side of the parking lot Tuesday morning.

As if on cue, Letrent's comments were punctuated with the sounds of a jackhammer at the opposite end of the lot.

"That's what we like to hear," PSC Campus Provost Kerry Odell said.

"This is the first of a number of new facilities planned at Potomac State College," he said, adding that a second groundbreaking is planned within the next few weeks for a new addition to the Mary F. Shipper Library.

Odell only smiled, however, when asked about plans for any other new facilities.

The new residence hall, which will take up the entire parking lot beside the gym, will offer three living options - a quad suite, which will feature two bedrooms with two students per bedroom; a double room for two students; and a single room. Each of the three options will have its own bathroom.

The facility will offer seven handicapped-accessible rooms, with two students per bedroom.

A laundry facility, aerobic fitness center, video game room and 74-seat theater are included in the design.

The new hall will be home to a 136-seat dining area and kitchen for the entire college, along with a "grab and go" snack area that will operate after hours.

Odell said Davis Hall, the dorm that houses the college's dining hall, will close once the new residence hall and dining area are open in the fall of 2007. Future use of Davis Hall will be assessed at that time.

In order to construct the new hall on the current site of the campus' main parking lot, construction crews will demolish the building on the corner of State and Arnold streets, which formerly served as the office for the housing director.

Additional parking areas have been added below Stayman Field and above the Church-McKee Arts Center, where the tennis courts were located.

According to Rene Trezise, director of marking and communications for the college, the additional lots will provide a few extra parking spaces for the students.

Letrent said the new facility would "positively impact our students and staff, as well as the residents of this community, for years to come."

Odell called construction of the residence hall "a sign of West Virginia University's commitment to Potomac State College, to its students, its faculty and its staff ... and to its many friends in the community."

Others wielding a shovel during the groundbreaking included Mike Simpson, interim facilities director for PSC; David Smith, WVU construction project manager; Joseph Fisher, WVU associate vice president of facilities and services; Russell Dean, WVU senior associate provost; Faith Foley, 2006-2007 Student Government president; David Mantheiy, executive vice president of NDC Manheim; John Delacruz, construction management director for American Campus Communities, the developer; and Paul Thompson, architect with Craycroft Price Architects.

Liz Beavers can be reached at lbeavers@times-news.com.

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