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OC contractor moves to head of class on schedule

POULSBO — While the community’s been debating retailers at the Olhava property, the Olympic College Poulsbo branch campus has been quietly making strides toward completion.

In fact, the 20-acre campus is ahead of schedule at this point and is expected to be ready for move in around October — about one to one and a half months earlier than originally planned.

“We’re still going to be opening in January, but it’s really a question of how much time we have to move in before January. I’m hoping October,” commented Mike Connolly, Olympic College vice president of administration.

Connolly attributed the 38,000-square-foot campus building’s speedy construction to cooperative weather and to Howard S. Wright contracting workers pushing themselves. He said the building is actually close enough to completion to be finished by September, however, utility work still needs to be finished by First Western Investments.

“The big unknown right now is whether the utilities will get in early enough to meet the contractor’s accelerated schedule,” Connolly said.

First Western President Mark Zenger said this week that he expects mass grading on the rest of the 216-acre Olhava site to be completed by mid to late July. Following will be utility and other infrastructure installation, which is targeted to begin Aug. 1 and must be completed by the end of September.

“Probably the earliest we can get those in (the campus will) start using them right away,” Zenger commented.

Despite the anticipated wait for utilities, other work on the OC Poulsbo branch campus is speeding along.

The main 400-stall parking lot was actually paved last fall and is a primary feature that many interested parties ask about.

“With our history of parking issues, it’s something a lot of people are interested in,” Connolly said.

The main floor includes a computer lab with four computer education rooms, a 60-person lecture hall and a multipurpose student and dining/vending area adjacent to a pair of classrooms. Both the classrooms and the dining area have retractable walls so the area can be used as three separate spaces or as one large space.

“It was designed for all kinds of community uses,” Connolly said.

An upper floor features a science lab, four classrooms and faculty and administrative offices. One of the smaller classrooms may be turned into additional office space in the interim.

“We have too few offices for the number of faculty we want to see up here,” Connolly explained.

One of the reasons for the shortened office space is the possibility of OC locating all or some of its nursing program at the new branch campus for about five to six years. Connolly said many staff feel the new campus would be a perfect host because of the intended emphasis on technology and health care in its curriculum.

“But I don’t know what the ultimate configuration of classes and faculty will be,” Connolly said. “I think they’ll kind of grow into it.”

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