By Joe Southern
Construction of the first building at Texas State Technical College’s new Rosenberg campus recently reached a milestone and was celebrated March 23 with a Topping Out Ceremony featuring many local dignitaries and school officials.
The traditional topping out ceremony signifies placement of the last structural beam on a building.
“We are tracking on time and on budget,” said Darrin Lupton, project manager for Bartlett Cocke General Contractors.
Construction of the $26 million, 125,000-square-foot building began last June along Hwy. 59 in Rosenberg and is scheduled to be completed in July with the first group of students reporting for classes in late August.
At the ceremony, workers and guests were treated to a barbecue lunch catered by Schulze’s BBQ, following brief remarks by Lupton, Randy Wooten, vice chancellor and chief execution officer for TSTC, and others. After the ceremony officials were given a brief tour of the building.
“We’re here. And, we’re here to stay. We’re grateful for all the support and we’re going to fill this building come August,” Wooten said. “This is a big day for TSTC and for the Fort Bend County area.”
“We are not only celebrating the hard work and long hours put forth by our construction partners and all the project skilled tradesmen, but it is very special to celebrate the topping out of a facility which will be very instrumental in the training and education of our future skilled technical construction partners,” said Randall J. Pawelek, chairman and CEO of Bartlett Cocke General Contractors.
Among those attending were County Judge Bob Herbert and members of the commissioners court, Rosenberg Mayor Cynthia McConathy and several council members, Richmond Mayor Evalyn Moore, Lamar CISD Superintendent Thomas Randle and TSTC Chancellor Michael Reeser.
“This is an important day for the community,” Moore said. “Richmond is particularly underserved in higher education. Now with the downturn in the oil industry people, more than ever, are going to be looking for opportunities and TSTC is here.”
“TSTC means jobs, economic development and educational opportunities,” added Rosenberg’s McConathy. “It’s a win-win for everyone who lives in this area. There’s a lot of people very excited about this college coming here.”
TSTC currently offers classes at Wharton County Junior College in Rosenberg and leases space from Lamar CISD. When the new building opens, it will house seven programs, including diesel mechanics, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology, precision machining, cyber security, industrial maintenance technology, telecommunications convergence technology and welding technology.
The ceremony was held in what will be the diesel mechanics lab. A steady wind and blowing dust made for a bit of discomfort but couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those attending the ceremony.
“What occupies my thoughts are the huge benefits that this program will bring and the benefits to the students who will attend classes here and then go on to get good jobs,” Chancellor Michael Reeser said.
The 80-acre campus is located on the north side of Hwy. 59 between FM 2218 and Hwy. 36. Just as soon as the first building is complete, construction will begin on the second building, a $14.9 million, 52,000-square-foot lab and classroom facility. Three buildings will be built in this phase of the project with six to eight buildings planned in total. When complete, it will serve and estimated 5,000 students.
The TSTC campus comes with the encouragement and financial support from the cities of Rosenberg, Richmond and Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Sprint Waste Services, the George Foundation and the Henderson-Wessendorff Foundation. The municipalities and foundations raised more than $40 million in contributions to help TSTC expand its educational opportunities in Fort Bend County.