Blue Ridge showcases remodeled center
by Jazz Clark
The local campus of Blue Ridge Community & Technical College opened their doors last Thursday afternoon to show what’s been in the works.
Located at the former War Memorial Hospital, the site has been renamed the Pines Opportunity Center and will house other businesses in the future.
Though classes have been in progress for a few months, officials have been putting together finishing touches since the contract was signed in June.
“I’m impressed with how well-appointed this space has been, especially on such a tight budget,” said Blue Ridge President Peter Checkovich. “The space has been practically custom-made for us.”
Features of the building include a Phlebotomy (blood-drawing) lab, five standard classrooms and several smaller rooms that can accommodate meetings.
A room with a drainage system will be used to teach pet grooming and veterinary care courses. What hospital beds are left from the recent auction are in a room reserved for nursing assistance programs in the future, which have been heavily demanded.
Classes have been ongoing during the Fall 2012 semester, and the campus has offered courses such as solar energy, animal CPR training and lead paint certification.
In 2013 they plan to expand their offerings by adding general education courses. History and sociology courses will be the beginning of expansion at the Morgan County campus of the Martinsburg-based college.
One of the fields highlighted was electrical distribution, with most of the classes facilitated by program coordinator Duane Roberson.
“We mainly teach people to be powerline workers,” Roberson said. “That gets their foot in the door, but companies want someone who can do everything.”
Workers who graduate with an associate’s degree in that field have a 99.9% hire rate and can make $60,000 first year. They have more job openings than people to put in them, Roberson said.
In another growing field, Alecha Sambower is program coordinator for criminal justice and forensics.
“Most people who go into law enforcement make it into the police academy,” Sambower said. “Many want to be detectives and work in jails.”
While classes in this field aren’t currently offered in Berkeley Springs, Blue Ridge is looking into teaching an introduction to criminal justice and possibly forensics if they can find an instructor.