Otero Junior College Plans New Buildings on Colorado Campus

Jun. 4--LA JUNTA -- Students registered for classes at Otero Junior College next fall will find a new and improved campus including the construction of a new dorm building and improvements to the landscape.

Workers at OJC are expected to begin construction on a new student housing building this month.

The new dorms will be located behind a parking lot west of the Student Services Center on San Juan Avenue.

Almabeth Kaess, marketing director at OJC, said Thursday that the dorms are being built because of the school's increased enrollment.

"The primary increase has been with international students; however, we have also had increased enrollment in other programs, and our current dorms, both at Wunsch Hall and at the South Site, have been completely full for the past several years," Kaess said.

Kaess said the school is experiencing an increase in students who need housing. "Our fall 2006 final head count was 1,632, which is about the same as it was for fall 2005, but more students are seeking housing," she said.

The new building, which will be about 4,500 square feet, will have 12 living units designed for two people each. Two units will share a rest- room facility.

Future plans include building a larger dorm unit with a lounge area and laundry facility.

Kaess said the estimated cost of the dorm project will be approximately $481,000, and it is expected to be completed by Aug. 31.

OJC workers also will install new security cameras outside and inside of the dorm buildings. OJC officials said plans were in place to install security cameras, but the recent shootings at Virginia Tech have increased the awareness of the issue.

Kaess said there also will be several upgrades to buildings and landscape around the OJC campus.

"Most of these improvements will be upgrades that need to be done due to age and wear and tear," Kaess said.

The OJC Student Center is currently closed because the mechanical system -- plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning -- is being replaced.

The student center will also be renovated, including expanding the bookstore and game room, as well as the restroom facilities. The plan also calls for the director's office to be moved from its current location behind the book store into the current game room.

The mechanical system being done in the Student Center will cost $424,000 with its completion date also in mid-August.

The mechanical system in the Humanities Auditorium also is being replaced.

New carpeting will be installed in the Humanities Auditorium, McBride Computer lab and in the educational assistance center.

The area in front of Macdonald Hall on 18th Street and Colorado Avenue will be re-landscaped.

New landscaping also is being done around McDivitt Center. A new bronze statue of a college-aged male and female will be installed on the south side of the building.

Kaess said college officials are planning to dedicate the statue in the fall when students return to campus.