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WNCC begins work on Sidney dorms

Housing for two dozen students to be available in August


Caitlin Sievers

WNCC faculty and staff do some digging at the dorm ground breaking Wednesday.

By fall of this year, 24 Western Nebraska Community College students will live on campus in dorms.

"This is a huge milestone for the Sidney campus," said Sidney Campus Director Paula Abbott at the groundbreaking ceremony for the housing facility on Wednesday afternoon.

The students at the school are both excited and surprised that the Sidney campus will have housing, Abbott said.

"I have to say that this is really an exciting day for us at WNCC," said college president Dr. Todd Holcomb. "For years now we have been looking at the opportunity of putting housing down here in Sidney and this is an opportunity for us to expand our programs, it's an opportunity for students to have housing. The great thing about Sidney is, it's growing so fast that many of our students had difficulty finding housing."

Sometimes the hardship students experienced in finding housing in Sidney caused them to decide against attending WNCC. The school hopes that the dorms will help it better meet students' academic needs.

"We're hopeful that this housing project will be just the start of our continued support and expansion of student programs here in Sidney," Holcomb said.

The dorms, which will cost around $1,400 per student per semester are modular homes which will be manufactured in Gering and moved to Sidney. Paul Reed construction will be installing the dorms on the Sidney campus. The contractor is already in the process of installing utilities on site.

"I want to say thank you for growing the campus," said Dr. Merlyn Gramberg chair of WNCC's board of governors. "I've been in education several years and with that my emphasis is on student education. And to see this grow in the southern panhandle and to get more students involved, the only thing we're doing is making it better for Nebraska and for the students and their lives."

Gramberg thanked the faculty, staff and parents for making this dorm project happen.

"It's really great to see Sidney grow," Gramberg said. "It's been growing for a long time, but we want to see it continue and through western Nebraska I think we'll all reach that end goal of seeing our students become productive citizens."

Dorm construction is scheduled for completion by Aug 1, for the Aug. 14 move-in date. Classes begin Aug. 18.

The school expects the dorms to be full with a waiting list, said Jeff Summitt, Sidney campus student services coordinator.

"With the amount of housing in Sidney, it was time to offer housing on campus," Summitt said.

There will be six double occupancy rooms in both dorm buildings. Each will have its own private bedroom, with a shared kitchen and lounge space for all six rooms. This makes for two buildings with 12 occupants each. There will be some sort of common space with landscaping between the two buildings.

Local officials were positive about the dorm construction.

"It should be a good investment in the future," said Cheyenne County commissioner Steve Olson.

County commissioner Ken McMillen agreed with Olson.

"If it can stabilize college enrollment, I think it's a grand idea," McMillen said.

Considering the state of the housing situation in Sidney, student housing is important, he added. Apartments are hard to come by and the ones that are available might not be the most desirable living spaces, McMillen said.

City manager Gary Person agreed that any additional housing was a good thing for the city.

"It's critical for the long-term success of the campus here," Person said.

Person thanked the board of governors and administration for adding this much-needed housing.

"We hope it's so successful they build more," Person said.

This spring WNCC has 142 full and part time students enrolled in classes.

The Western Nebraska Community College board which has campuses in Scottsbluff, Alliance and Sidney, held its monthly meeting at the Sidney campus prior to the groundbreaking.


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