INA, Ill. (Feb. 21, 2014) – They work behind the scenes, keeping everything running and maintained on all Rend Lake College campuses. Since May 2013, employees at the Rend Lake College Physical Plant have completed many large projects, but that number isn’t close to the work put in by the 60 employees.
A few of the biggest projects completed in the last year include the new Massage Therapy and Nail Technology labs, the final aspects of the Music Department renovations, the new Cherry Creek Driving Range, the additional weight room in the Hitting Zone, the new HVAC controls system at the MarketPlace, and the pistol shooting range behind the Coal Mine Training Center.
The Massage Therapy Lab moved from the MarketPlace to the Ina campus last summer to make room for the Nail Technology Lab at Studio RLC. Maintenance Technicians Rusty Downen and Chris Maxwell were two individuals of many who worked on the projects at both locations.
“We tore out the walls where massage therapy had been and built all new,” said Downen.
Maxwell added, “We consulted a lot with Daphne Mitchell, Studio RLC Director. She wanted a classroom set up, but we had a lot more to do, like putting in an exhaust fan and dispensary. We had to meet state regulations as well. It was a big project.”
Also at the MarketPlace, Grounds Supervisor Donnie Millenbine said it was two weeks of mowing before work on the new golf driving range could begin. The driving range opened last fall and is just part of the 100 acres the Grounds Department keeps up in all three locations.
On the main campus, work was still finishing up on the music department renovations in the form of new risers in the music classroom, Learning Resource Center (LRC) 107. The classroom was open for student use at the start of the Fall 2013 semester.
“The music renovations were a big project last year, as was the second floor of the library where we built the mock hospital rooms. They were both pretty rewarding to be a part of,” said Charlie Massie, an electrician.
More recently, Physical Plant employees put up the new pistol shooting range to accommodate RLC’s new Concealed Carry classes. A temporary range was constructed in one week to house students who had already registered.
“The college had planned to build one, but when we needed to have one done quickly, we put up a temporary one in a few days,” said Maintenance Supervisor Dave Mathis. “Later, we built the permanent range, which took about six weeks. We worked around the classes, but also made sure no one would miss classes. It was a good job done by everyone involved.”
Employees also built a weight room for RLC athletes in the Hitting Zone, starting with putting up walls to rewiring to moving equipment across campus.
“We didn’t just come in and paint walls and leave. We put in walls, gutting, wiring, the whole works. Then we moved some equipment from the Fitness Center,” said Mathis. “We don’t ever start anything that we aren’t going to finish. We have a lot of skilled tradespeople who take pride in their work.”
For the most part, projects on campus are done in-house, helping the college save money from contracting out work.
“Eighty percent of everything we do is in-house. The savings of that is huge,” said Mathis. “It’s like having a home team of people to go to. I hope the college continues to support us so that we can have a positive impact on the students and the learning environment every day.”
One of the goals for the Physical Plant employees, as graduates or current students at RLC, is to complete projects, maintenance, and work orders around the students.
“It’s a juggling act, but we take care of what needs to be taken care of,” said Mathis. “Our primary concern is maintaining the campus for the good of the students, which is why we get in and try to do it right the first time. It makes it easier for us in the future. All this has to be done without disturbing the students, so we try to get it done when students aren’t present. That means working on nights and weekends to be out of the way.”
Despite constant work requests and projects lasting anywhere from days to months, the workers all agree on one thing: the Physical Plant is a great place to work on the RLC campus.
“It’s a pretty great work environment,” said Pat Peto, a carpenter. “It’s a pleasure to work for RLC and Randall Shively, Director of the Physical Plant.”
Massie agreed, stating, “Randall does a good job of making it nice to come to work.”
Maxwell added, “It’s not monotonous. The variety of our responsibilities makes for a great place to work. I’ve always thought I had the best job, because I know everyone, and there are a lot of great people. Outside of the college, the retail and state people at the MarketPlace are a good group to work with. It’s like my home and my family.”
After a day of maintenance work, it’s the Physical Plant’s custodial team who comes in to make sure the space is clean for students the following day and prepare for work in subsequent days.
“Most of the projects were completed by the Maintenance Department on day-shifts; however, each custodian has a part one way or another cleaning up after each day,” said Custodial Supervisor Curtis Caldwell. “We clean the messes up each day the project is going on. Each custodian does an outstanding job keeping everything clean and ready for the next day.”
Overall, Mathis said he’s looking forward to seeing what the Physical Plant can accomplish in the next year.
“We’ve got an extremely strong department. I’ve never worked with a more positive group of people who look forward to being here and seeing the college prosper,” said Mathis. “I hope I keep them all for a long time. They’re self-disciplined with a good skill level. RLC is a great place to work, and it’s good work. It’s nice to be able to do this work for the students and the taxpayers. I am really proud of the work and we all take pride in it.”
Other projects completed since May 2013 include:
- Installed and painted new LED light fixtures in Ina campus parking lots and roadways;
- Installed a new countertop and shelving at the switchboard in the Administration Building; new countertops for 11 computers in Advanced Technology Center (ATC), Coal Mine Training Center (CMT) and Applied Science Center (ASC); a new Machine Shop Lab in the Vocational Building (VOC); and portable ramps for the graduation platform;
- Moved UPS into Administration;
- Built new offices in CMT, the Coffee Shop at the MarketPlace and LRC 143;
- Upgraded offices at LRC 130 and 131, South Oasis (SO) 146 and 147, and the Student Center;
- Upgraded the restrooms in CMT;
- Sealed and striped the Ina campus and MarketPlace parking lots;
- Installed a new shingle roof on the RLC Foundation Children’s Center;
- Built new locker rooms on second floor of the Sports Center (SPC);
- Completed the Children’s Center work list Aug. 12-16, which was the Children’s Center staff’s in-service week, the only week of the year the facility is closed;
- Installed several new lights in the Theatre;
- Cleaned above the ceiling in ATC;
- Installed two new severe weather sirens in ATC and North Oasis (NO);
- Upgraded ATC 163, ASC 104, and VOC 109 classrooms;
- Created the Academic Building (ACA) 202 classroom for lecture and the new RLC Fitness Center at the MarketPlace;
- Upgraded classroom ACA 215 for the new computer lab to move Spring 2014;
- And constructed and installed the Learning Enhancement Center Lab, and the Math and Writing Lab in the North Oasis.