LRCC opens new building to house nursing, science & fire science programs

LACONIA — Two students — Nicole Soucy and Tom Newman — shared the honors at Lakes Region Community College (LRCC) yesterday when for just the third time in the 46-year history of the college a ribbon was cut to mark the opening of a new building.

The 24,000-square-foot companion to the Center for Arts and Technology, which opened in September 2005, completes a project begun in 2003. The new building will house the nursing, physical science and fire science programs as well as a multi-purpose room and faculty offices. Designed by SMRT, Inc. of Manchester and constructed by Bonnette, Page and Stone Corporation of Laconia, the building was completed at a cost $6.4 million.

"There were lots of shoulders we stood on to get this building built," said Scott Kalicki, president of LRCC, expressing his appreciation to Tom Clairmont, president and CEO of LRGHealthcare and Carmen Lorentz, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council for assisting with designing and equipping the nursing complex.

Ross Gittell, chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire agreed "it takes a partnership," stressing that "everything we're doing here is for our students." He said that the college is playing a major role in developing the skilled workforce required to attract and retain businesses in the Lakes Region.

"This college changes people's lives," declared Paul Holloway, who chairs the Board of Trustees of the Community College System, "by offering opportunity and providing self-worth." Turning to several elected officials at the ceremony, he asked for their "increased support," adding "that means dollars."

Tom Goulette, vice-president of LRCC, called the new space "a fantastic shot in the arm for our college." The nursing program, which has operated in a few rooms of the academic building, has moved to the lower floor of the new building. It features a skills laboratory with eight beds, outfitted as though they were in a hospital and occupied by "high fidelity" mannikins, whose vital signs and medical conditions can be manipulated with the touch of a finger to simulate a variety of scenarios. There will be sufficient space and equipment to enroll 32 students in the two-year nursing program each year.

The science suite consists of two rooms for biological sciences and one each for physics and chemistry. The fire science program, the most popular offering on campus, has both a sprinklered training laboratory for controlled burns and a classroom. A multipurpose room with seating capacity for 140 people can be configured to provide a variety settings, including an auditorium.

Kalicki expects to be cutting another ribbon in the near future. He said that the 2013-2014 state budget includes $3.25-million for construction of a new building to house the automotive program at the college and design the renovation of the space it will vacate to accommodate the culinary arts program, which is now housed at Canterbury Shaker Village.