BRTC to replace current Health/Science facility on campus

VP's of General and Technical Education look over blueprints for new building
VP's of General and Technical Education look over blueprints for new building

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - Their current facility is bursting at the seams.Now, the final touches for blueprints are underway on a new Health and Science Complex at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas.

Though it won't open until the summer of 2015, many are already excited for the possibilities it'll bring the 2 year college.

What's currently a set of blueprints and an empty field will soon replace a facility that's outgrown its use on the campus of Black River Technical College.

"Our classrooms are full, our laboratories are full," Vice President of Technical Education, Angie Caldwell told Region 8 News. "We're packed. There's no room to move around, we have difficulty sometimes scheduling the lab facilities."

Caldwell explained a trip to Washington DC in early 2013 to talk about rural community colleges turned into an opportunity for BRTC to grow.

Not only was the U.S. Department of Agriculture looking to assist smaller communities with infrastructure need, but our local USDA department was looking at BRTC as well.

"They were starting to look at educational programs and institutions to help so the timing was absolutely perfect," Caldwell said.

BRTC signed a $9.5 million low interest loan with the USDA for a new Health and Science Complex. The two story, 46,000 square foot building will double the size of the current facility and then some. 

VP of General Education, Roger Johnson told Region 8 News the new building also gives them the opportunity to bring in new technology.

"We wanted to make sure that we bring to the students what is out there today. What they're going to be looking at today," Johnson said. 

Additions to the campus that BRTC anticipates will bring in more students in both nursing and science.

"It allows us to be able to serve more students that we know upon graduation are going to get a job," Caldwell added.

"It's something that I've wanted for a long time," Johnson said. "I know the Board has wanted to do something for a long time and to allow us to take both of these needs, the health and the science and the relationship between the two is going to be great for the college, the community and primarily, the students."

Though the current Health/Science complex has outgrown its use for that particular need, it will fill a use elsewhere on campus. There have been discussions on what the building may house but nothing is set in stone just yet as to what need it will fill.

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