True Hall gets new life, new role at MCC

Monday, August 26, 2013
McCook Community College's True Hall begins a new chapter in its history this semester as the former gymnasium begins its use as the new home of the college's physical resources. The first phase of that change involved moving the central administrative offices into a remodeled area on the southwest portion of the former gym which includes a new mailroom and entry area. Pictured here are, from left, Marla Sanders, Physical Resources Administrative Assistant; Keith Heathers, Maintenance Technician; MCC Vice President Andy Long; Darin Morgan, Director of Physical Resources, and Jeff Pinkerton, Supervisor of Maintenance Services. (Courtesy photo)

McCOOK, Nebraska -- As McCook Community College kicks off the fall semester with a new campus CEO, one of the campus's true "old-timers" answers the back-to-school bell with an epic facelift and officials have revealed some positive enrollment trends.

Andy Long begins his first semester as Vice President of MCC while the second oldest building on campus, True Hall, starts the school year with a new look and a new purpose as the home of college's physical resources.

Long was born and raised in Grant and spent several years teaching and coaching in Cozad and Big Springs prior to joining MCC in early July. He previously served as Area Dean of Enrollment Management for Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo.

Mid-Plains Community College President Ryan Purdy said since Long assumed the MCC position six weeks ago he has "hit the ground running."

"He's jumped right in leading and directing a number of efforts aimed at providing MCC students a positive experience. And the students are really what we're all about," Purdy said.

Other new full-time staff at MCC this year include:

Jon Froelich: Student Success and Retention Coordinator and MCC Women's Basketball coach; Dan Sewell: Area Technology Specialist, Information Services Department, McCook campus; Clay Grizzle: Theater and Speech instructor; and Randy Chambers: welding instructor at the Center for Applied Science and Technology

Jon Olsen, who serves as instructor, Athletic Director and Baseball Coach, also begins the semester as the interim Dean of Student Life.

Speaking to an all-campus gathering of MCC staff and employees, Purdy said while the preliminary student enrollment numbers are down from a year ago, MPCC remains the only community college in the state to experience an increase in student numbers over the past two years.

Preliminary enrollment numbers at MPCC show there are 60 more students registered for classes this year compared to last year, but because they are enrolling in fewer classes the key enrollment statistic, full-time equivalency, is down about 2.8 percent.

Kelly Rippen, MPCC's Dean of Enrollment Management, said these preliminary enrollment numbers might reflect on MPCC's focus on student retention. There were 715 part-time students last year compared to 803 part time students so far this year.

"Maybe our focus on retention has resulted in students looking at their lives and their commitment to academics and coming up with more realistic goals, like taking six hours instead of nine credit hours."

At MCC the full-time equivalency numbers as of Friday were 153.23 compared to 164.3 a year ago, a decrease of 11.1 students. Traditionally MCC gets an enrollment boost in the week before classes begin. Rippen said that if the large number of student appointments leading up to the start of classes is any indication, enrollment numbers will be strong.

Purdy pointed out that MPCC's tuition freeze extended to a system-wide freeze on student fees and room and board, the only institution in the state that did that.

"That helps make it affordable for both the student and our taxpayers," Purdy said.

As MCC students begin with student orientation today and classes tonight, the college's former gymnasium begins its new purpose as home of the MCC Physical Resources.

Darin Morgan and the administrative services side of the plant resources officially moved from its former home in Tipton Hall to True Hall. All remaining Physical Plant relocation remodeling is expected to be completed by Jan 1, 2014.

This project started with the addition of an overhead door into the old weight room area. MCC staff converted this space to its grounds equipment storage/maintenance area. The roof in this area had substantial structural failure that has been repaired. A new electric heating unit and duct work were added to serve the grounds equipment maintenance area.

"Then we installed a 10-foot-by-12-foot overhead door and driveway on the north side of True Hall," Morgan said, adding that MCC received invaluable assistance for the structural design and materials from Lloyd Benjamin of CBS Constructors, with installation of the door by Weathercraft Roofing and Overhead Door.

The wood basketball court was removed and a new concrete floor was installed, to serve as the fleet vehicle storage area and repair shop. After abandoning the old boiler heating system Parde Mechanical installed natural gas radiant tube heaters in the shop area.

"This installation of the radiant tube heaters resulted in an immediate natural gas savings in January and February of about $1,500 a month," Morgan said.

The old gym lights were removed and new LED high bay fluorescent lighting was installed to serve the fleet storage/shop area.

On the south side of True Hall, near the visiting team bench area, MCC staff began construction and remodeling for the administrative offices and mailroom/entry area to serve the Physical Plant. Included in the remodel of this space will be physical plant administrative space, new larger mail boxes to serve all campus mail, installation of a new handicap lift, installation of new LED lighting, carpet and windows.

"We retained part of the wood basketball court floor in the lobby/mail area, as well as an original interior True Hall door that has been refinished and installed between the shop and administrative area," Morgan said. Mechanical, electrical, and HVAC system upgrades were also conducted to serve the new administrative space.

Currently Morgan said officials are waiting for the installation of new north/south entry doors and his staff is working to convert the old "stage area" of True Hall to MCC's wood working area.

Weathercraft Roofing is installing a new roof on True Hall, to be completed in the next 30-45 days, followed by a campus landscape plan to improve the north and west sides of True Hall. MCC maintenance staff is working to remove the old garage between Tipton Hall and True Hall.

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