Walton Athens Tech campus set for major upgrade, expansion

Stephen Milligan - the walton tribune

The main Athens Tech campus will be the model for the redesign of the Walton campus

The main Athens Tech campus will be the model for the redesign of the Walton campus. Photo credit Courtesy of Athens Tech

As part of a multi-phase enhancement project, the Athens Tech campus on Bryant Road is facing several new additions and improvements in the coming months as part of a new package included in the state’s annual budget this spring.

“It’s very exciting,” Andrea Daniel, president of Athens Technical College, said. “We are ready to begin on this two-phase renovation process.”

As part of Phase 1, Daniel said the Monroe campus’s first priority would be the addition of a new welding lab, a $9.8 million project that will provide room for dozens of students to practice welding as part of the technical school’s vocational program

It’s a large welding lab,” Daniel said. “It’s a key priority for us.”

But while the welding lab is the biggest project on deck for ATC, it’s hardly the only portion of the college’s plans for the Monroe campus.

Among other projects, there are plans to expand the old high school 500 hall for industrial programs, as well as making upgrades and improvements to the entire structure, including their HVAC systems. And Daniel said they want to make the building, which once housed Monroe Area High School for nearly half a century, look more modern and collegial by renovating the entrance.

“We will be adding a welcome center to the front entrance,” Daniel said. “It will make a huge difference in greeting people and making it look more like a college, more welcoming overall.”

Daniel said the changes and additions are just part of the long-range plans to continue expanding offerings for all students at ATC.

“We recently had a ribbon cutting for our RN program, which we couldn’t have done without Piedmont Walton, Piedmont Rockdale and Piedmont Newton,” Daniel said. “We have expanded and grown our culinary program and our CDL driving range. And we will continue to expand and grow partnerships with businesses in the community. It’s not just about the building. It’s about workforce development.”

Daniel said there is more planned in Phase 2 of the project, such as adding a cybersecurity program in the next year or so, and that the college is looking to take full advantage of all the assistance they’ve received in the new budget.

“I want to thank Gov. Brian Kemp for putting this into his budget,” Daniel said. “We also had key support from Rep. Bruce Williamson. He really understood the need and the vision.”

Daniel also praised Rep. Houston Gaines for support, as well as Greg Dozier, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, for helping to push through the plans.

“We couldn’t have gotten this through without all their help,” Daniel said. “I can’t wait to get started on the welding lab.”

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