Mid-Plains Community College campuses in North Platte, McCook and Imperial have new looks for the fall semester.
MPCC’s temporary switch to remote learning in March due to COVID-19 put the college ahead of schedule construction-wise as the quiet campuses allowed crews to start early on a series of planned improvements.
South campus – North Platte
Additional improvements were made to the campuses in North Platte over the summer. The last big project inside the McDonald-Belton building on the south campus wrapped up with the remodel of the Welcome Center and entryway.
“We wanted those two areas to match and to change the overall focus for people who come into the building,” said Mike Steele, area vice president of administrative services. “Admissions and recruiting previously been moved right inside the front door. We’ve now created a comfortable place outside those offices for prospective students and their families to hang out while waiting for services.”
The spaces on either side of the entrance are filled with TVs and soft seating that matches the modern theme throughout the building. That theme carries over to the welcome center, which received new carpet, paint, ceiling tiles, lights and a panel storage system. The functionality was also altered to give staff more space to work in.
Around the corner at the doors of the gymnasium, a glass trophy case featuring digital screens was added to highlight the college’s athletics.
Projects continued outside of McDonald-Belton as well. New parking was created on the west side of the building to accommodate buses and to make up for the parking that was lost with the creation of a new grassy area in the middle of campus – between the McDonald-Belton and the dorms. The campus now has about 1,300 parking stalls.
“The new parking and green space is part of what we call the ‘Quad Project,’” Steele said. “Originally, we were going to spread it out across 4-5 phases, but as we looked at form, function and timing, it was more affordable to just do everything at once. It will be less disruptive as well.”
Logistically, moving ahead with the entire project also solved some parking issues.
“The parking lot on the north side of McDonald-Belton was in need of repair, so we moved all that parking to the west side of campus,” Steele said. “That also provided a safe route for traffic to travel around, instead of through, campus because the new parking lot is connected to a road that loops around behind the dorms.”
The road intersects with the campus’ new driveway, which was moved north to accommodate expected access from U.S. Highway 83. A connection to the Willow St. hike and bike trail was also added as part of the quad project.
The green space, once complete, will serve as the focal point of the campus. It will feature a 30-foot by 50-foot pavilion and accompanying sound system for hosting events.
Looking ahead, there will also be an amphitheater with seating for 160 people, a gas-fed fire pit, Wi-Fi, ports for charging cell phones and other devices and the entire area will be monitored with security cameras. So far, the project is on track to be done by the middle of November.
North campus – North Platte
Although not as extensive – the parking on the north campus in North Platte also underwent an overhaul. Half of the parking on the west side of the W.W. Wood Building was replaced. So was the parking for student housing.
“Long-term maintenance was the biggest benefit,” Steele said. “It has been 12-15 years since the parking lots on north were redone, and by replacing the asphalt with concrete, we should be able to double that amount of time. We no longer have to worry about overlays or sinking tires.”
While the island in the student housing parking lot was narrowed to make room for larger vehicles, the sidewalks were widened to make them more accessible.
On the east side of W.W. Wood, the island was removed, and the parking lot was repainted for a new series of motorcycle classes.
Inside the building, a data center was created.
“We moved our computer lab in the southeast corner to a different room and worked with UP Railroad to get some of that space back,” Steele said. “The area was converted into a new data center big enough to house all of the college’s IT equipment, ensure proper cooling, have proper fire suppression and be ADA compliant.”
In the middle of the building, the Wood Grille dining hall and kitchen were remodeled to include a new façade, flooring, paint, lights, equipment, signs, digital screens and electrical service.
The auto body classroom across campus was also revamped with new flooring, paint, lighting and upgraded technology.
Images of the many renovations conducted by the college over the summer can be found on the MPCC Facebook page.
At MPCC’s Center for Applied Science and Technology in McCook, the college completed Phase 2 of the remodel on that building.
“We put new welding booths in a year ago, which greatly enhanced the air quality within that space,” said Mike Steele, area vice president of administrative services. “This summer, we went in and removed existing wall structures to expand the shop space. We were able to create an air compressor room and a tool room as well as replace all the existing windows to let in more natural light.”
LED lighting was also added, the interior was painted and two classrooms in the front of the building were expanded.
“We put in a storage area for information technology and improved the overall general appearance of classrooms and the entryway – including new windows along the street,” Steele said. “Next summer we will start on Phase 3, which will be the exterior façade and signage.”
The Wrightstone Fine Arts Gallery in McCook also received a facelift. The drawing and painting labs were completely renovated.
The stairwell is now hidden and lockable, a storage room and new display areas were added and cabinets will be placed soon so that students can store supplies.
“The whole building has a better look and feel to it,” said Steele. “It was repainted, the windows and lighting were updated and an overhead projector and screen were installed so that art instructor Rick Johnson can better project demonstrations to students.”
Just up the road from McCook, the MPCC Imperial Campus was also undergoing a transformation.
Crews are halfway through the construction of a 2,800-square-foot addition on the north end of the existing building. The goal is to be able to move staff and classes into the addition after the first of the year. Renovations will then begin on the original section of the building to make it more functional.
Once complete, the building will have grown from three classrooms to seven – two with movable walls. It will also have dedicated areas for English as a Second Language classes and health and science instruction as well as new restrooms, a mechanical room and a storage room.
“The additional classroom space is needed to handle demand,” Steele said. “The community has done a great job of supporting us, and with everything Brenda [Ledall] and her team are doing to increase enrollment – we have outgrown the building. With this new addition, the campus will soon be able to host both college and community events.”