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Community college unveils Norton building




NORTON -- Colby Community College now has a brick-and-mortar presence in Norton.

Classes started this summer in the newly renovated former Doctors' Clinic, 211 N. Norton, said Stephen Vacik, CCC president.

The college has had outreach classes and a nursing program in Norton since 1975 and was interested in expanding the nursing program.

The building became available when Norton County Hospital built a new clinic adjacent to the hospital in 2011.

"It's a great repurpose for that (building), because it's somewhat still a medical training facility," said Scott Sproul, Norton City/County Economic Development executive director.

Renovation of the approximately 6,000-square-foot building went smoothly and cost approximately $400,000, Sproul said.

Money for the renovation came from the Dane G. Hansen Memorial Foundation, Norton County and other donations.

The Kansas State Board of Nursing has approved adding 12 additional licensed practical nursing students and 20 registered nursing students to the Norton program.

A new two-year evening program for LPN and RN students takes six semesters. Ten students will be accepted into each program. Two LPN students will be added to the daytime program, bringing the total LPN students from 18 to 30.

The Norton program added two full-time nursing instructors to the staff, making a total of four, as well as an administrative assistant, Vacik said.

In addition to the nursing classes, the college also will offer adult, basic and outreach classes to the community and businesses, he said.

Vacik said the college also opened a nursing building in WaKeeney last year as part of its expansion of services.

Massage therapy classes also are offered in WaKeeney. The courses are online, but students complete clinical work, too.

Outreach classes will continue in a number of northwest Kansas locations. Since some schools have ITV and others don't, centers such as Norton will offer some of those classes, as well as the expanded nursing programs.

They will be geographically closer to the students than the Colby campus. Often when students leave the area to get an education, they don't return, Vacik said.

"We're not only educating students but keeping them in western Kansas," he said.

Nursing program graduates are in demand in a variety of fields.

"We'll have quality health professionals in northwest Kansas for years to come who have a vested interest within the area," Sproul said.