The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 18, 2012

Work on UPJ nursing site expected to begin in April

— It’s a healthy dose of good news for Pitt-Johnstown.

Bids are in on the planned 26,000-square-foot Nursing & Health Sciences Building – and if all goes well, work will be under way on it in April,  UPJ officials said last week.

“We’re another step closer to groundbreaking, so we’re very pleased,” said UPJ spokesman Robert Knipple, hopeful the estimated $11 million construction project will have the site student-ready for the fall 2013 semester.

Set to be built alongside the Engineering & Science Building – and a bit larger than originally planned – the two-story center will be home to a dozen nursing, chemistry or biology labs, six offices and two classrooms.

It will also become the first true hub for the school’s growing nursing program, Knipple said.

UPJ officials have reason to be anxious.

The school’s nursing bachelor’s degree program is now in its fourth year – and is set to grow to 160 students next fall, school officials have said.

“The soon-to-be-constructed Nursing & Health Science Building (has been) carefully planned to provide the best of both traditional and high-tech environments that foster academic excellence in contemporary nursing education,” Nursing Division Chairwoman Janet Grady said.

“Our graduates will be well-prepared to meet the dynamic needs of 21st century health care ...”

“We can’t open this building soon enough,” Knipple added. “The program is growing to the point where we’d build this overnight if we could.”

Bids are being reviewed in Oakland by the University of Pittsburgh’s facility management committee, which meets toward the end of the month, he added.

They aren’t expected to give the project final approval until April.

The college, meanwhile, is completing preparations to move the project toward construction, which is expected to take 14 months, Knipple said.

He said the building permit for the project was issued Nov. 3 by the Department of Labor.

The Windber Area Authority approved the college’s request Wednesday to treat wastewater flowing from the new building.

Windber Area Authority Manager Dennis Mash said its vote followed one by Highland Sewer and Water to transmit the sewage to its plant.

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