By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The building at 481 S. Forks Ave. was ready for Tuesday's meeting of the Peninsula College trustees and public tours, but just barely.
Staff members from the Forks Extension brought in a half-dozen space heaters to make the large, mostly empty building less of an icebox, but about 50 visitors shivered through the board meeting and tours of the facility, which is expected to officially open for classes in September.
“The real shindig will be in the fall,” said Peninsula College President Luke Robins.
A grand opening celebration is planned in September to mark the official opening of the new site, he said.
Robins said he has been contacted by the office of 6th Congressional District Rep. Derek Kilmer, who wants to take part in the celebration. The 6th District includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
On Tuesday, the building smelled of fresh paint and carpet glue but had bare walls and only a single classroom furnished.
Quileute Tribal Chairman Chas Woodruff presented a Quileute flag to Robins to begin transforming the empty shell into a home for West End residents.
The new building has six large, modern classrooms, each of which has giant television monitors and workstations for instructors to plug in technological teaching tools and computers.
Two classrooms are equipped with cabinets and sinks to be used for art classes or science labs.
Peninsula College has had satellite classrooms in Forks since 1996. In 2000, it moved into the current location at 71 S. Forks Ave.
The college bought the new building, which was once the home of Bank of America, in 2013.
Remodeling crews gutted the building, removing nearly all of the original interior walls and leaking skylights, and added banks of windows and a new back entrance to the building, said David Wegener, construction project manager for Peninsula College, who led a tour of the facility.
The bank's now-empty safe deposit room still has the old safe deposit boxes, which will be closed up and the safe door permanently propped open so that employees in what will become a workroom do not get locked inside, Wegener said.
$2 million budget
The college budgeted $2 million for the purchase and renovation of the building which was half bank, half public meeting space.
Peninsula College received $1,307,114 in grant funding in June 2013 from the state Department of Commerce to pay for energy-efficiency upgrades at the new Forks site.
McKinstry of Seattle/ESCO and Energy Performance Contracting won contracts to work on the project.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.