West Hall Opens Its Doors

September 25, 2020

Stephanie Jones
Staff Writer

   Staff, faculty, students, and community members alike have longed for a space at Northwestern Michigan College where people can gather as a community. As the West Hall Innovation Center opens its doors, that moment is finally here.
   “The college has been on the list with the state for a new West Hall for over 10 years,” says Vicki Cook, NMC vice president of finance and administration. “It is a large project that took the support of our legislatures.”
Construction for the new building began in 2018. A couple delays pushed back the date of its opening, with COVID-19 being the main one. “The target completion for West Hall was the end of March or beginning of April,” Cook explains. “The building was completed in July 2020.”
   “I really like the new innovation building,” says Early Childhood Education major Alexis Reid. The expansive three-story building holds several services for students. It has the library, West Hall Café, Northwest Grind, NMC security office, classrooms, computers, and many study spots.
   What makes this building unique is that it’s NMC’s first 24/7 building, allowing students to utilize the space at any time convenient for them. “It’s in the center of campus and makes it easy for students and community members to access,” Cook says.
   West Hall’s unique study spaces are different from any other place on campus. “Our library has a fireplace now, making it a cozy area to study,” describes Kerrey Woughter, NMC director of library services.

   NMC is using a four-stage reopening plan, and is currently in Phase 2 of the process. The college is taking several measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. The cafeteria has a one-way flow to help lessen contact between customers.

Photo courtesy of NMC Public Relations

On Sept. 18, a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the official opening of West Hall Innovation Center.

The college has placed an “X” with tape on seats and desks throughout the building to ensure that students and staff are keeping a six-foot distance between each other.

   “Students can’t check out books 24/7 from our library while we are in phase 2 of reopening,” Woughter says. “There is a process for sanitizing the books, making sure all the pages are clean.” The library will be open 24/7 once NMC reaches Phase 4.

   Until NMC advances in phases for reopening, the college asks students to do as much work remotely as possible to help prevent the spread of the virus and keep everyone safe. “It’s important that everyone wears their mask when inside a building,” Cook says. “Wear your mask even when seated at your table to keep everyone safe and keep from shutting down again.”

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