Steady enrollment growth at the OTC Richwood Valley Campus spurred a recent project to add more classroom and office space. The campus, which is currently at capacity in the morning and afternoon hours, will soon have five brand new classrooms and four offices in a surprising location – its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Shelter.
The million-dollar construction project began in July and will be complete in time for the spring 2017 semester. In an effort to be space-efficient, each of the rooms will have the capacity for wall-mounted computers. Additionally, all of the new classroom furniture will be on wheels so it can be easily moved when the building is needed as a tornado shelter.
The Richwood Valley FEMA Shelter opened in 2010 as a “safe room” for faculty, staff and students as well as residents who live nearby. The 10,000-square-foot shelter can hold nearly 1,400 people in the event of an emergency. The building will continue to serve as a tornado shelter when severe weather threatens.
“With the construction project nearly complete, we will soon have the best of both worlds on campus,” said Dr. Jeff Jochems, OTC Richwood Valley Campus president. “The building’s newfound utility will help us serve more students and offer additional courses in the years to come.”
When the Richwood Valley Campus opened in 2007, approximately 650 students were enrolled. Today, the campus serves more than 1,000 students each semester.