Barton Community College is putting the final touches on Bluestem Hall, a three-story student housing building with 150 rooms. At a Great Bend Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday evening, Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman invited community members to tour the “recently completed — VERY recently completed” facility.
Construction began in the summer of 2013. Mike Johnson, chairman of BCC’s Board of Trustees, warned that anyone who stayed too long Thursday might be asked to help unload furniture from trucks scheduled to arrive that evening. Actually, everyone was invited to picnic fare in the Student Union.
Johnson praised C.V. Cale Inc. contractors of Great Bend for bringing the $4.6 million project in on time for the fall semester. “They’ve done an outstanding job — for the most part with local contractors.”
Heilman noted that architect Don Mars was also on hand for the ribbon cutting. Earlier, during a board of trustees meeting, Dean of Administration Mark Dean said the dorm’s $4.6 million price tag includes all of the furnishings.
The Barton Foundation was also recognized. Up to 25 percent of the students in BCC residence halls receive scholarship assistance from the Foundation, Heilman said.
In recent years, Barton has started its fall semester with more student residents than it had rooms for. As a result, extra beds were added to rooms, and some students stayed in Great Bend motels until housing became available. With the addition of Bluestem Hall, BCC can house up to 342 on-campus residents — a net gain of 50 beds.
Combined with other major capital improvements done on campus over the past two years, Heilman said, the college can compete for students. “We’re positioned ourselves well for the future.”
Student ambassadors guided the guests through the building following the ribbon cutting. A common room on the first floor has comfortable seating and a large flat-screen television. Each floor has a kitchen. The most common room configuration is two two-person rooms with a shared bathroom. There are desks, closets and a set of shelves that could easily hold a television, microwave oven and mini-refrigerator. Students will have access to free cable and wireless networking.
Move-in day is scheduled for next weekend, Aug. 16 and 17.