Almost three years after its initial attempts to sell the shuttered Laurel Education Center property in Latrobe fell through, Westmoreland County Community College again has a sale pending on the campus.

The Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) board of trustees on Wednesday voted to approve the sale of the property to Scottsdale, Arizona-based SimonCRE Sparky III, LLC for $410,000. The approval is subject to the college solicitor’s approval of the terms of the sales agreement and closing documents.

The Laurel Education Center, located at 17 Lloyd Ave. in Latrobe beside the Castle Co-Packers facility along the Loyalhanna Creek, was closed when WCCC’s new Westmoreland-Latrobe center opened in 2015.

WCCC had a sale pending on the property in early 2017, but the prospective buyer at that time, the National Acoustic Research Academy, backed out of the deal before closing on the $400,000 transaction.

“This deal is a better deal and it’s market value,” college solicitor Daniel B. Pagliari said. “We got our money’s worth out of this (property). We’re not taking a loss and it’s within the guidelines of our policy,” on the sale of real estate.

SimonCRE owns commercial real estate properties across the United States. According to its website, the company owns three properties in Pennsylvania, all single tenant retail spaces occupied by O’Reilly Auto Parts stores.

Proceeds from the sale of the Laurel Education Center campus will be held in the college’s reserves.

The trustees also approved a contract for additional work to construct an on-campus conference center as part of the Phase III construction project. The 2,300-square-foot conference center will fit into an area of the Phase III project that had originally been slated to house library stacks.

The board approved a contract with CannonDesign for additional architectural services related to the conference center, as well as change orders with Hudson Group Inc., Vern’s Electric, Lugalia Mechanical Inc. and Interstate Fire Protection. The total cost of the architectural contract, change orders and fees for construction management and insurance for the conference center work is not to exceed $225,000. Costs will be covered through Phase III bond funds.

The community college is poised to benefit from the planned LIVE! Pittsburgh mini-casino at Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield Township before the venue opens its doors.

The trustees at Wednesday’s meeting approved a letter of intent for WCCC to enter a relationship with the casino to develop a “dealer school” to train prospective casino card dealers and offer new dealers training. According to the letter, WCCC would be expected to initially offer training to at least 120 students, with instruction in blackjack and carnival games.

Live! Pittsburgh is to provide curriculum, instructor candidates and training materials such as card tables and supplies, as well as a suitable space for new dealer training. The letter indicates the casino company will reimburse WCCC for instructor wages, as well as paying $20,000 each year for staff expenses and a one-time contribution of $15,000.

In other business, the board of trustees approved:

  • A renewal of the college’s lease agreement with the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc./New Kensington. Under the amended agreement, the college will lease 6,110 square feet of space at a rate of $80,957.50 per year for a five-year term from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2024;
  • A new Nanotechnology, AAS program that combines the existing Bionanotechnology and Nanofabrication AAS programs. Students will complete the first three semesters of the new Nanotechnology program at WCCC before finishing the program with a semester of courses at the Nanofabrication Facility at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. In a related motion, the trustees approved terminating the Bionanotechnology and Nanofabrication programs that are being replaced with the new Nanotechnology program;
  • Program modifications to the Journeyman Machining Technology diploma program to better align with state requirements. The modifications will reduce the college’s current 775 hours of classroom training to 587 hours to more closely match Pennsylvania Department of Labor requirements or 576 hours of classroom training. The changes will allow students to complete the diploma program in two semesters, college officials said, with the opportunity to obtain an AAS degree with two additional semesters of training;
  • A new student travel policy and revisions to the Civil Rights/Title IX policy and complaint procedure.

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