The Student News Site of Georgia Highlands College

Six Mile Post

The Student News Site of Georgia Highlands College

Six Mile Post

The Student News Site of Georgia Highlands College

Six Mile Post

HVAC renovation leaves Walraven building without hot water

Upon returning to the Walraven building of the Floyd campus for the Fall 2023 semester, students and faculty discovered the absence of hot water in restrooms and labs, a situation that still persists today.

An investigation into the matter reveals various factors contributing to the delays, including renovation, funding, and administrative issues.

According to OSHA regulations, employers are required to maintain restrooms with hot and cold running water, hand soap and warm air blowers or hand towels.

However, a sink next to the chemistry lab in the Walraven building lacks water entirely, a finding discovered during the investigation.

Anna Crusselle
The investigation also uncovered that the last sink located in the women’s restroom next to the chemistry lab doesn’t run water at all.

“The only thing that says you need hot water or temporary water on a job site is an OSHA statute, but that statute says you have to provide hot or tempered water in an accessible bathroom on a job site,” Gilmore said. “It doesn’t say every building has to have hot water or temperate water, just that the employee needs to have access somewhere on site.”

Floyd Campus Manager Brad Gilmore explained that the Walraven building, which mainly hosts S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) courses, underwent major renovations funded by federal HERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund) resources.

The renovation aimed to overhaul the HVAC system, a relic from the building’s 1970 origins, resulting in a two-semester-long process that concluded in Fall 2023.

“The renovation was crucial for updating our HVAC system, but it left the building without hot water,” Gilmore said. “We looked into zoning off areas during renovations, but it wasn’t feasible without disrupting classes.”

Gilmore outlined the careful relocation of classes during the renovation period to ensure continuity in education. Despite the planning, the absence of hot water persisted post-renovation.

When questioned about the delay in restoring hot water, he pointed out the funding constraints.

“The cost estimate for reinstating hot water ranges between $70,000 to $75,000. We’re in the process of requesting funds, but it is subject to approval through the year-end budget,” Gilmore said.

Professor of Geology Billy Morris, expressed frustration at the lack of communication regarding the issue. Morris detailed his experience discovering the hot water problem after returning to the building post-renovation.

Despite submitting work orders and inquiries, he received no satisfactory response regarding the timeline for repairs.

“By accident I ran into one of the guys in the hall who normally responds to the work orders and asked him what was going on,” Morris said. ”That’s when I found out it was a whole building problem.”

Assistant Vice President of Facilities David Van Hook, when approached about the issue via email, acknowledged the problem but provided no clear resolution timeline: “We are aware of the issue and are working on a resolution, but I don’t currently have an estimate on repair time.”

Morris emphasized the importance of hot water, not only for sanitation but also for transparency within the institution.

“Students and faculty deserve to be informed about such issues affecting their daily lives,” Morris added.

Several spaces, including restrooms and specific labs, remain without hot water. The situation poses challenges for activities that require warm water, such as experiments and hygiene practices.

Anna Crusselle
Until the hot water heater is replaced, the other sinks run hot water very slowly, often just trickling, while cold water flows normally.

With the fiscal year budgeting process underway, there is a glimmer of hope for a solution.

When asked about the time frame for the new hot water heater, Gilmore mentioned an upcoming budget hearing that will allow department heads to voice their areas of need and funding concerns.

“Earliest I would say, it would probably be installed either late summer or early fall,” Gilmore said. “The worst-case scenario would be spring after the beginning of the year.”

Even though the budget hearing is essentially only a way of presenting the funding question, the GHC faculty is working to solve this.

“We absolutely want to make sure that everyone is comfortable and that’s why it is our intention to put it back in, it just hasn’t happened yet,” Gilmore said.

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About the Contributor
Anna Crusselle
Anna Crusselle, Managing Editor
Anna Crusselle serves as the Managing Editor of the Six Mile Post. Her academic focus lies in journalism, and she possesses a deep passion for writing. Anna's writing portfolio predominantly comprises features and news articles, although she approaches any genre of storytelling with enthusiasm. During her leisure hours, she engages in various hobbies, including contributing to her personal blog, playing the piano and participating in the church choir as a singer. Her dedication to her studies reflects her aspirations of pursuing a career in investigative journalism. In addition to her editorial role, she also holds the position of secretary in her family's land surveying business.

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