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Grant clears way for ACC welding expansion

News File Photo Alpena Community College welding instructor Tim Ratz, right, shows Olivia Price the setup for a generator during a welding class.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because of a mixup at The News, an incorrect version of this story appeared on Page 1A Tuesday and briefly at TheAlpenaNews.com Tuesday morning. The correct version appears below.

ALPENA — Alpena Community College has received a $2.4 million grant that will allow the college to purchase new equipment and double the space for its manufacturing and welding programs.

The U.S. Department of Commerce grant will pay for 80% of the project, while the college will pay 20%, or $600,000.

College President Don MacMaster said the college already has its share of the money set aside.

MacMaster said he was excited to learn the college received the grant.

“We think it will be good for the manufacturing community, it will be good for the community at large, and it will be good for Alpena Community College,” he said.

The manufacturing and welding programs currently share a space in the college’s Besser Technical Center. Renovations are expected to increase classroom space to 14,000 square feet and provide 16 new welding booths.

The grant will allow the college to renovate its former auto body laboratory into space for the manufacturing program. When the manufacturing program is relocated, the welding program will then expand into the remaining space.

MacMaster said he would like to see ongoing renovations to its Van Lare Hall completed before the new manufacturing project launches. Van Lare Hall’s $8.7 million renovation should wrap up by the time the fall semester begins in August.

MacMaster said he did not know when the new project would begin, as college officials still have to select an architect and general contractor. He said college officials also have to figure out how to perform the renovations without compromising existing classes.

Northeast Michigan’s congressional delegation, Democratic U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, expressed support for the project in a written statement released by the Commerce Department.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the Van Lare Hall project costs $8.7 million. This was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

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