Elected state, county and city officials recently gathered at Wharton County Junior College’s Richmond campus to formally break ground on a $1.75 million construction project.
The groundbreaking ceremony drew a large crowd that included elected officials, school district representatives, WCJC Board of Trustees members, college employees and staff, students and media representatives. Guest speakers included District 28 State Rep. John Zerwas, District 85 State Rep. Phil Stephenson, Richmond Mayor Pro Tem Barry Beard and WCJC Board of Trustees Chairman Danny Gertson.
Guests were greeted by WCJC President Betty McCrohan, who thanked those in attendance for their ongoing support and noted that the groundbreaking is just one part of a larger, comprehensive improvement project.
“The Richmond campus renovation and expansion project is only the first stage of a revitalization plan on this campus,” McCrohan said. “The college’s master plan also includes a new health professions building, a student pavilion and refurbishment of the original building. This project offers another opportunity for us to serve the community.”
The Richmond project entails renovating 9,000 square feet of space and building a new 3,600-square-foot wing in order to expand the cosmetology and process technology programs. Project cost is $1.75 million, not including equipment and furnishings. Expected completion date is fall of 2017.
Through the project, cosmetology will be offered for the first time in years at the Richmond campus. Currently, the program is housed exclusively at the Wharton campus. Cutting-edge equipment, a spacious salon and extra classroom space will allow the program to accommodate 60 new students.
Process technology is based at the Bay City campus but began offering classes in Richmond last year. Once the expansion project is completed, the program will be able to accommodate more students and offer additional training opportunities.
The project includes the construction of a computer lab, an open lab, additional classroom space, a turbine generator, and distillation and neutralization skids.
Gertson, chairman of the WCJC Board of Trustees, said the college has a rich history in Fort Bend County that dates back to 1980, when WCJC taught its first classes to 127 students at B.F. Terry High School. The Richmond campus was opened in 2001.
“WCJC prides itself on offering our students, of all backgrounds, the personal attention they need to realize their dreams, whether that dream is to earn a one-year certificate, a two-year associate’s degree or to take core courses to transfer to a four-year university,” Gertson said. “At WCJC, we are proud of (our) legacy of success and we stand ready to educate area residents for decades to come.”