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Campus field trip

Board of?Trustees receive tour of FMCC renovations

Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees visit the newly renovated Perrella Art Gallery located in the Visual Arts and Communications Building on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees took a field trip during Thursday’s meeting to tour areas of the campus that were renovated over the summer as part of the college’s 2019 capital project work.

FMCC Acting President Greg Truckenmiller led the group across campus from the board room at the Allen House to the Visual Arts and Communications Building to view the updated Perrella Art Gallery.

Old carpeting was removed from the gallery and replaced with hardwood floors. Soundproofing materials were installed on the ceiling to dampen noise related to the new floor materials and the walls received a fresh coat of paint.

The gallery also received surveillance cameras for the first time to provide security to artwork exhibited in the gallery that is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays until 9 p.m.

Around the corner from the gallery the board received their first glimpse of the college theater that underwent extensive renovations before the start of the fall semester and received its final coat of paint on the walls earlier in the day.

The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees tour the newly renovated college theater located in the Visual Arts and Communications Building on Thursday. The venue has been renamed the Rao Theater following the massive overhaul that was funded in part by a $500,000 donation from Dr. Govind Rao of Amsterdam. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Seats in the theater were replaced with a mix of small, medium and large seats spread throughout the space to maximize comfort while taking in a performance or presentation. New carpeting was installed along theater steps with treads along the edge for safety.

Recessed lights installed along the stairway will allow students and visitors to safely exit the theater when house lights are off during a performance. The stage thrust extension was replaced with a collapsible model that can be put up or removed to make way for the addition of chairs as needed.

Ceiling “clouds” that obscured electrical work while providing soundproofing were repositioned to make existing lighting banks accessible and structural supports were reinforced. Existing light fixtures in the theater were retrofitted with LED bulbs.

Technology in the theater received a major upgrade through the installation of a new control board, sound system, high definition projector, screen and two way communication device between the control room and backstage.

“Inside of the control room all of the equipment has been updated, we went from analog to digital. We have the same sort of control boards that they have at Proctors so our students here can walk into Proctors and know exactly what they need to do in terms of programming the light board and sound board,” Truckenmiller said.

The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees view a class in session in the newly renovated chemistry lab located in O'Connel Hall while touring the completed 2019 capital project work on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

New windows capable of opening were installed in the control room at the rear of the theater allowing the booth operator to check in on how things sound inside the house. Recessed stage boxes installed in the floor house wiring and electronic equipment below the stage to prevent running wires along the top of the performance space.

The theater has also received a new name, rebranded as the Rao Theater following the massive overhaul that was funded in part by a $500,000 donation from Dr. Govind Rao of Amsterdam. Stewart’s Shops also provided a $75,000 donation towards both the theater and gallery projects and both contributions were matched by state funds. The theater and gallery projects were completed at no cost to Fulton and Montgomery counties.

From there the board made their way to the second floor of O’Connel Hall where phase two of the college’s three phase project to reconfigure and upgrade the college’s outdated science labs that had been in use since the 1960s was completed. The second phase transformed the existing general and organic chemistry labs into a microbiology and chemistry lab respectively.

“This room was completely gutted,” Truckenmiller said entering the new microbiology lab.

Work in the labs included asbestos abatement and the installation of electrical wiring and utilities below the floor that come up to small lab stations spread out across the room with seating for four students at each station.

The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees tour the newly renovated microbiology lab located in O'Connel Hall on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

“We went from the traditional long row benches to the student pods,” Truckenmiller said. “It’s easier to circulate around the pods and work with students. Unlike some of our other classrooms where we have a fixed teaching podium, in these labs we have mobile carts that connect wirelessly to the projectors so it is easy for the instructor to move throughout the room.”

Each lab features a smart board for instructional purposes and fireproof glass observation windows installed in the lab firewalls facing into the halls of the academic building. New exhaust hoods that provide ventilation to prevent exposure to potentially harmful fumes or vapors were installed along with new eyewash stations and safety showers.

An existing prep room between the labs for use by instructors was reconfigured following the removal of separating walls that created small, dark spaces in the room. The prep room and both labs each received new flooring, fresh coats of paint, new cabinets and other needed fixtures and furnishings.

“The faculty love it, the spaces feel more modern and they’re more functional for the faculty and the students,” Truckenmiller said as the group passed the new chemistry lab where a class could be seen in session through the observation window.

Work on the science labs was estimated at $1 million funded by contributions of $250,000 each from Fulton and Montgomery counties and $500,000 in matching state funds.

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