The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
GCC forges ahead on quake repairs
BY PAMELA GOULD
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
When students move back into the V. Earl Dickinson Building on Germanna Community College’s Spotsylvania campus next year, they will see visual reminders of the earthquake that shuttered the building last August.
Those reminders will not be of the damage from the Aug. 23 earthquake that centered in nearby Louisa County, but of the steps taken to shore up the building.
Workers have installed vertical and diagonal steel beams on all three levels of the building that should provide both stability and flexibility if another temblor rattles the area.
Some of the beams have been covered during repairs of the Dickinson Building, but some diagonal ones will remain exposed, including some that cross in front of windows, a member of the construction team said during a tour of the building on Friday.
The Dickinson Building was the only structure on Germanna’s three campuses to have significant damage from the magnitude-5.8 quake. It damaged all three stairwells and created a floor-to-ceiling crack in the wall on the ground floor.
Repairs are estimated to cost $1.4 million, but the total cost of the quake at Germanna is estimated at $3.5 million, including expenses such as leasing space for offices and classrooms, moving furniture and storage of furniture and other items, said college President David Sam.
The state’s insurance was expected to cover all but the $5,000 deductible, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now expected to cover some of the costs, he said.
Students were inside the building, attending classes on the second day of the fall semester when the quake shook locations across much of the eastern United States.
They were evacuated immediately, and they haven’t been able to use the building since.
TOURS BEFORE CLASSES
Repairs are expected to be completed by the one-year anniversary, but students won’t resume classes in that building until the spring semester, Sam said. The exception is art classes that may move back into the building during the fall semester.
Students and staff will be offered guided tours through the building before classes resume to show them the structural improvements and reassure them of their safety, Sam said.
“We’re going to demonstrate for both the logic and the emotion that changes have been made that will make it better than it was,” he said. “We’re just hoping that makes people feel more comfortable.”
A psychologist will be available in case people have any issues they wish to discuss.
Repairs are expected to be finished by early August. Work will then begin on renovation and remodeling that had been planned before the earthquake. That work is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Between September and December, employees will move back into their offices, since renovations are for only the western side of the building.
The campus’ library relocated to the new Science and Engineering Building when it opened this spring.
That space is being converted into a bookstore and expanded space for student services.
OTHER PROJECTS AHEAD
The Dickinson Building isn’t the only Germanna project under way.
On the same campus in the Massaponax area, work has begun on a four-level parking garage that will have 362 spaces. The $5.3 million parking deck is expected to be available for use Oct. 1, college spokesman Mike Zitz said.
In Stafford County, a state-of-the art automotive training center is almost finished, Sam said. Classes are scheduled to start there in August.
The college is moving its automotive training program from Culpeper to Stafford into an 11,000-square-foot facility that is expected to quickly double enrollment.
Germanna is also establishing its first presence in the city of Fredericksburg as a result of an in-kind donation of office space by the Rappaport Cos. This month, the Germanna Educational Foundation and the college’s marketing staff are moving into space provided by Rappaport in Central Park, Sam said.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972