Clarion nursing program Somerset

State Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Berlin; Somerset County Commissioner Gerald Walker; state Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette; and Clarion University Provost Pamela J. Gent (from left) are pictured Friday, March 8, 2019, in front of a wall that will be knocked down as part of renovations to the Somerset County Education Center in preparation for Clarion’s nursing degree program.

SOMERSET – Renovations at the Somerset County Education Center are proceeding on schedule and are expected to wrap up in time for Clarion University to begin offering nursing classes at the Glades Pike facility this fall, according to Gerald Walker and John P. “Pat” Terlingo, Somerset County commissioners.

Walker said he expects the renovations to be completed by the end of May, weather permitting. Equipment for the facility’s administrative offices and laboratories has been ordered and will soon be installed, he said.

Terlingo said after Tuesday’s meeting of the board of commissioners that workers from Darr Construction, the Berlin-based construction company that is carrying out the renovations, “are doing a bang-up job.”

“From what I see,” Terlingo added, “we’re going to have a great facility there for the first incoming class and thereafter for this nursing program, which is really needed. Nurses are very hard to get, and the county, as well as the (Somerset County Foundation for Higher Education), as well as the people of Somerset County, are facilitating this.

“As we move down the road – this is speculation on my part – I would really like to see undergraduate courses there at some point … and maybe, in the future, even some graduate credits, so that our kids and nontraditional students have the opportunity to stay relatively local, instead of having to travel all over creation for credits.”

The commissioners voted on Tuesday to approve a change order in the amount of $25,525 to construct an equipment storage shed at the center. The move brings the total project cost to the county to $334,225, according to Sonya Augustine, chief clerk.

Clarion is set to begin offering classes at the Somerset County Education Center this fall as part of its associate of science in nursing degree program. The last nursing program based at the center was shut down when Allegany College of Maryland closed its campus there in the spring of 2017, citing “steep declines in enrollment and revenue losses that are expected to continue.”

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.