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Virus delays Van Lare Hall

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Nick Brege, Alpena Community College’s director of facilities, on Friday talks about the Van Lare Hall renovation in the space that is to become the debriefing room for the college’s nursing program.

ALPENA — Delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic have put renovation of Alpena Community College’s Van Lare Hall slightly behind schedule.

The project was delayed, briefly, during the state’s shutdown meant to prevent the virus’ spread while college officials urged the state to designate the renovation as an essential infrastructure project.

Van Lare Hall is undergoing a $8.7 million renovation that will double the space for the college’s nursing program and upgrade the building overall for both students and faculty.

College President Don MacMaster said the project was able to “kick back into full-gear” on May 8.

“We had originally hoped, as we were planning out the project, to be done at the beginning of December 2020,” MacMaster said. “The pandemic, of course, really thwarted all that, and so the new projected end date is three months after that — now March.”

News Photo by Crystal Nelson The inside of what is to become Alpena Community College’s advanced nursing lab is pictured on Friday at Van Lare Hall.

MacMaster said most of the work is being done inside the building, which is not as visible to people driving by on Johnson Street. But he said there’s a lot of progress being made.

The renovation will create a Center for Health Sciences, which will include multiple classrooms for the nursing program, an advanced nursing lab, a control room that oversees mock hospital rooms for practicing real-life nursing scenarios, and a debriefing room for nursing students.

The project also includes a larger lobby, a renovation of the student lounge — which will be pushed back about 20 feet toward Lake Besser — and a remodel of the building’s food services.

MacMaster said vital upgrades will also be made to the college’s administrative offices — such as the registrar, student services, financial aid, and business offices — during the tail end of the project. Heating and cooling and fire suppression systems will be upgraded and new windows will be installed.

Traverse City-based Spence Brothers Construction is overseeing the project. The firm also oversaw construction of the recently completed terminal at the Alpena County Regional Airport.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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