Renovations toward Patrick Henry Community College’s Manufacturing & Engineering Technology Complex are costing more than originally expected, so the college will set aside an additional $500,000 for the project.

That was agreed upon during Monday’s meeting of the PHCC board of directors, held virtually as a video conference.

The MET complex is being created in the building that formerly housed the Virginia Motorsports Technology Center, located in the Patriot Centre’s Beaver Creek Industrial Park a mile from the main campus. The two 50,000-square-foot buildings are on 37 acres. PHCC used state and local funds to purchase the property for $5.45 million in 2013.

Arrington Performance occupied most of the building at the front of the property until 2018. When it left, the PHCC board authorized the school to renovate a part of that building for its welding program.

The facility will have 44 welding booths, said Jack Hanbury, PHCC's vice president for financial and administrative services. Currently the program has 16 welding booths. The site also will have robotics, classroom space and office space, according to documents provided before the meeting.

The original cost estimate for the project was $3.8 million, documents show. The college secured grants of $3.2 million from The Harvest Foundation and $600,000 from the Tobacco Commission.

During first reassessments it looked like the renovations would cost as much as $500,000 more than originally planned, Hansbury said, but further review brought that figure down to $275,000.

Board member Barry Jarrett made the motion to approve the board report to allow up to $500,000 to complete the project, which was approved. That would allow, as Hanbury had put it, some “wiggle room” in case costs went up more than expected.

The other building in the complex houses STEM, Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Development programs, including Motorsports, General Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Computer Aided Drafting & Design, Industrial Controls, Industrial Maintenance, Electrician, Siemens, CISCO and Megatronics.

PHCC President Angeline Godwin talked about the college’s adaptations to the coronavirus restrictions.

She has created a “New Reality Task Force,” a “very broad-based representative task force” made of people form a range of areas of responsibility and expertise. The task force will look at ways the school can operate under pandemic-related restrictions.

In its planning, the task force will consider state requirements, the decisions of the Virginia Community College system “and our local dynamics,” she said.

She said that she listens in on and watches the meetings of the Virginia Community College System’s pandemic task force, held each Friday.

Godwin said PHCC has adapted well. She said that during the time restrictions were being considered but before they were set, “I thought it would take us 2 weeks” to transition to working online. However, classes and program were “99% virtually remote college in four days. That 1% was welding/machining” that had to be done in person until restrictions ruled out in-person instruction.

The board approved Advanced Racecar Setup as a new career studies certificate. Lessons will include race day set-up, engine tuning using a dyno and preparation for pit stops, according to the documents.

The program would have 25 credits from the following classes: Race Car Setup I and II, Stock Car Engines II, Motorsports Structural Technology III, Dyno Engine Performance, Inert Gas Welding, Engine Machining Processes II, Numerical Control I and Introduction to Pit Stop, according to the documents.

The course would allow for a tier 2 career studies certificate, said Greg Hodges, PHCC’s chief academic officer, and “the third level is a full associate degree.”

The board approved the 2020-22 Biennial Parking Plan.

PHCC plans to spend $25,000 to repair portions of sidewalks during Fiscal Year 2020-21, and an additional $20,000 for lighting along the sidewalk entrance to the Walker Fine Arts Building, Hanbury said. The year after, it plans to set aside $50,000 for additional sidewalk and parking repairs.

The board welcomed new member Bill O’Brien of Franklin County, who was participating in his first meeting.

Janet Copenhaver was voted in to assume the role of board chair starting July 1, and Denny Casey will be the vice chair. Their terms will run for two years.

Copenhaver will replace outgoing board chair Barry Helmstutler.

This was the last meeting of board members Jarrett and Rebecca Lovell. Each has served on the board for eight years and served a term as chair.

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.

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