Last updated: February 19. 2013 4:21PM - 780 Views

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NANTICOKE – The Luzerne County Community College Board of Trustees on Thursday approved $1.9 million in renovations to two buildings on campus that formerly housed programs now based downtown.

Joseph Gasper, dean of finance, said the renovations mark the final stage of the college's construction project. Building 9, the former Health & Science Center for the nursing and dental programs, will be renovated and house career placement offices that are currently there, faculty offices and classrooms. Building 2, the former Culinary Center, will house classrooms and labs for the electrical and plumbing/heating programs.

The Health & Science Center is now in the former Kanjorski Building on Main Street, and the Culinary Institute is down the block at Main and Market streets.

Another part of the plan that will be really helpful to our students with these renovations is that the faculty are going to be very close to the students who they're teaching, so there's going to be more of a physical connection, where students after class will easily be able to visit the faculty, said college President Thomas Leary.

We feel it's a really good retention initiative; that was part of our plan, trying to bring everybody together, Leary said.

The general construction contract went to GC Wall Inc. at $938,800; mechanical construction went to Yannuzzi Inc. at $342,000; plumbing went to Yannuzzi at $157,600; and electrical went to Apollo Group at $483,200.

The board also approved contracts with three collection companies to try and collect on delinquent accounts of students.

Eastern Revenue offers two pre-collection letters at no charge and will receive a fee of 20 percent of the delinquent amount collected; AR Resources offers three pre-collection letters at no cost and will receive a fee of 18 percent; and General Revenue Corp. offers three pre-collection letters at a fee of $2.99 per account and will receive a fee of 20 percent.

Gasper said the college will split the delinquent accounts among the three companies to try and determine which performs best when considering future contracts.

Despite some delinquent accounts (the total wasn't immediately available), Leary said the college is doing well. While enrollment is down 2 percent from this time last year, Leary said that's a national trend and particularly a state trend among community colleges.

A lot of people have theories on why this is happening – the recession lasting longer than we thought – but overall, I think enrollment-wise, financially, our plan for the renovations and moving forward, I think we're doing very well, Leary said.

There are 13 colleges and universities in Northeastern Pennsylvania and we're by far the largest enrollment at 6,200. We're very proud of that. We're becoming more and more the choice of students, he said.

In other business, the board:

• Instituted a $15 reactivation fee for students who previously applied to but did not attend the college and a $25 testing fee.

• Approved sending trustees Frank Bognet, Elaine Cook, Lynn Marie Distasio, Carmen Magistro, John Serafin and Barry Williams to the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Trustees meeting at Northampton Community College on Nov. 15 at a cost not to exceed $500.

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