The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

New AVTEC dorms ready for residence


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Early last week, the second floor of the "Connector" at the recently finished AVTEC Dorms starts to fill with new furniture and recreational equipment.

On Jan. 4, new and returning AVTEC students move into AVTEC's new housing facility. The $16 million facility was turned over to AVTEC's Residential Life Department in early December by builder Cornerstone General Contractors. Furniture for the 118 bedroom complex was delivered just before Christmas and the chairs, tables and beds were still being arranged over the weekend, while RLD Head Dave Paperman and his staff of dorm attendants figured out where to put everything.

Among the accommodations in the 35,500-square-foot three story dormitory are some non-shared, private VIP rooms and 55 shared bathrooms, which are accessible through lockable doors. The facility also has some creature features included a large first floor TV room and common area and, above that, a glassed-in two-story recreation area with stunning views of Mount Marathon. Each floor has it's own muted color scheme and an array of Alaska artwork, selected by a committee with local representatives and coordinated by the Alaska State Council on the Arts, is set to decorate the hallways.

AVTEC has another, smaller, dorm building next door and a handful of family residences nearby but the new facility connects directly to the Culinary Arts building and is a few steps away from the building housing AVTEC's gym, library and auditorium.

AVTEC Director Fred Esposito says that the new dorms give the school the complete package, creating a more integrated campus and allowing more focus on school programs. "It's going to be more conducive to students being a lot more comfortable in their surroundings and their environment, to studying, and for them to feel more at home, more at ease," Esposito said. "The idea is to create a comfortable place where they would want to stay, so that they stay in school once they arrive, and they do well."

After demolition of the old building, which was designed and built in the 1970s by AVTEC staff and students, 39 pre-manufactured room modules were shipped in from Idaho to be fitted together into the finished product. The only setback was some minor water damage when rain finally fell after an exceptionally sunny summer. Nevertheless, the project ended up within budget and right on, if not ahead of, schedule.

Workers were still applying finishing touches into the second week of December, including a glass balustrade on a third floor balcony and decorative flooring including a color AVTEC seal in the first floor common area. Microwave ovens were being installed in student lounges on each of the three floors right around the corner from laundry facilities in triplicate with stacks of shiny new washer dryer combos. Most of the work that remains including fitting bedding and equipping the office is up to Paperman and crew.

TelAlaska has yet to install a new wireless internet system and technicians were still stringing network cable through the building last week. According to Paperman, the demand for regular phones just isn't there anymore and local providers GCI and Telalaska will be supporting students with cell phone and internet based communications. On Saturday, GCI was on hand to welcome students at the door with a display of their wares, including cell phone packages.

Last week, as she walked the halls of the new AVTEC housing facility, veteran dorm attendant Connie Jacobson was excited. And wistful. "Every room on this side of the dorms has a view," she enthused. "These students are pretty lucky. I just hope they treat it nice." However after relating some tales of student escapades, she's obviously not optimistic on the subject. However Jacobson does express some feelings of regret, saying that she misses the creaky old building. "It had character and a history with the community," she said.


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