In 2015, Westmoreland County Community College will conduct classes in a new home in downtown Latrobe.
The 30,000-square-foot facility will be located on 1.8 acres stretching from Depot Street to Jefferson Street. The two-story facility will house general and computer classrooms, labs for biology, chemistry and allied health, faculty and administrative offices, student study areas and multipurpose rooms for community activities.
“When it opens, WCCC-Latrobe will serve as a hub for education, workforce and community development activities. The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation is pleased to support this important revitalization project.”
WCCC-Latrobe will replace the Laurel Center, located across Loyalhanna Creek on Lloyd Ave., which was formerly occupied by Kennametal.
A master facilities study conducted by the college in 2008 determined that the Laurel Center was in need of significant upgrades. Since its opening in August 1989, approximately 14,000 area residents have taken classes at the center.
Rather than make costly repairs to the aging facility, the college worked with Latrobe government, business and community leaders to determine how best WCCC could serve the community as well as suitable locations.
“With this community input, we recognized the importance of relocating the center to a site in downtown Latrobe in order to continue to be part of the economic development and revitalization of the city,” said former WCCC President Daniel J. Obara.
After receiving the endorsement of Latrobe community leaders, the college acquired several parcels of property located at the intersection of Depot and Jefferson Streets. Demolition of the properties occurred over the winter while the college and project architect finalized designs for the center.
The college began construction this summer and anticipates the project to be completed in the spring of 2015. When the new center opens for the spring 2015 semester, the name will change to WCCC-Latrobe to reflect its hometown roots.
Thus far, the college’s plans for the center have been well-received and have generated much excitement among the Latrobe community.
The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation donated a $500,000 grant to support the project.
Linda Boxx, chair of the foundation said, “When it opens, WCCC-Latrobe will serve as a hub for education, workforce and community development activities. The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation is pleased to support this important revitalization project.”
WCCC-Latrobe will be able to accommodate approximately 500 students each semester and draw from nearby communities such as Derry and Ligonier. The center will offer general education classes designed to transfer to bachelor’s degree programs at four-year universities and programs that prepare students for employment immediately upon completion.
“We anticipate WCCC-Latrobe to be a popular choice for recent high school graduates and adult learners wishing to start on their bachelor’s degrees, update job skills or change careers,” said Obara.