Madison College-Portage campus undergoing $1.2 million upgrade

Madison College-Portage campus undergoing $1.2 million upgrade

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It started with an upgraded entryway and ends, soon, in a $1.2 million renovation project.

Improvements at the Madison College-Portage campus include 800 additional square feet in its vestibule, a Student Achievement Center, testing room, three offices and a remodeled lobby with new floors, walls, lighting, furniture and study pods.

The campus, in the spring, wanted to make its entryway more accessible and a project ballooned from there, Campus Manager Linda Nellen said.

“It got bigger because we always want to refresh our campuses," she said. "I think the updated environment is more welcoming, as there’s just a better feel to the building now.”

The campus will showcase the improvements in an open house from 1 to 3 p.m., Feb 3. Much of the work -- including the bolstered entryway -- was completed prior to the start of classes in August. Lighting in the remodeled lobby was finished in December, and in the spring the campus will lay concrete for an outdoor patio with picnic tables and benches, the final piece of the project.

“We’re very excited about this,” Associate Vice President for Regional Campuses Jim Falco said. “We’re in our 41st year in Portage and we did this because everything we do is geared toward the students, in trying to make sure we continue to service them into the next decade.”

The Student Achievement Center gives students more room for studying and tutoring, including an upgraded telepresence room with WebEx technology that the students can use to access the classroom from anywhere in the world, Falco said. “They can use their phone, tablet, laptop or PC. Whether they’re sitting in a hotel room or coffee shop, they can also be in the classroom and be present.”

The campus renovated its Adult Learning Center, too, adding new computers and teaching stations where the students study English as a Second Language, prepare for General Education Development and other education that's needed to qualify for credit courses.

The campus also renovated its main office, where it created a break room for staff, upgraded its bathrooms with matching tile, made a larger conference room and created counter space in the vending area for students.

“It’s all-inclusive,” Falco said of the project for which Daniels Construction from Madison was the general contractor. “We’ve completely renovated this campus and removed barriers for the students.

“We’re always asking the question, ‘What will their needs be?’”

Campus employees, Nellen said, have already noticed more students using the furniture than ever before, in places where they can now charge their phones, and more businesses are holding their meetings on campus now, which they can do for free. The Portage Public Library, for example, held several meetings on campus as it underwent its own construction project in the fall.

“We’re getting a lot more usage in that way,” Nellen said of public use. "An updated building adds a lot to our community.”

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Reporter Noah Vernau's memorable stories from 2019 explored school safety funding in Wisconsin, the difficulty schools sometimes have in providing theater programming, how local startup businesses bucked statewide trends to find success and low vaccination rates among children in the region. 

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