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Photo by Jeff Holmquist Officials with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond, along with community leaders and state legislators, were on hand Monday morning for a brief groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the facility's expansion and remodeling project

WITC expands New Richmond campus

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The second phase of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College's expansion project is well underway in New Richmond.

The foundation was poured and walls were erected starting six weeks ago. Now the project is temporarily on hold as contractor Derrick Cos. waits for a shipment of steel to be delivered.

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Officials with WITC, along with local state legislators, were on hand Monday, April 16, for an "official" groundbreaking at the local institution. Even though construction crews were already hard at work at the site, dignitaries hadn't had a chance to applaud the start of the significant project.

WITC completed the first phase of the project in 2010 when it built an addition and remodeled part of its existing structure.

The current project plans call for the remodeling of the power equipment center, the college's steel-sided building. Remodeling plans include stripping off the steel roof and siding, and removing the concrete floors.

The expansion portion of the project will actually take place within WITC's current footprint, Campus Administrator Joe Huftel said. An 8,000-square-foot addition will include new classroom spaces and allow reconfiguration of existing space to accommodate a learning commons, a large general studies lecture room, and an expanded science lab.  When all is said and done, six additional instruction spaces will be created.

"This will provide us with some greatly needed extra space around here," Huftel said. "And it will allow us to consider adding some new programs too."

The new learning center will actually be housed on two 4,000-square-foot levels, Huftel said. Plans for the $3.2 million remodel/expansion project have been in the works for years.

The project would have been completed sooner, but technical colleges are limited to $1.5 million in new construction every two years. WITC also tries to limit it's remodeling budget to approximately $1.5 million per year to assure it can adequately manage its debt service.

WITC is bursting at its seams, Huftel said. When the college's satellite program opened at the Community Commons in 2011, it was the first time WITC had been able to offer a new program in five years. Now, the college's Human Services Associate, CNA and Early Childhood programs are housed at the Community Commons.

If all goes as planned the expansion and remodeling project should be complete before classes begin in the fall.

WITC's enrollment has grown steadily over the past few years, Huftel said, and the extra space will help the technical college meet the demand for training that businesses and students are seeking.

"If we build it, we'll fill it," he said of the expansion.

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