NMJCs Allied Health Center Gets Firm Foundation
4/6/2018 9:40:47 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. [Story by Dorothy Fowler - Photo by Kimberly Ryan, Hobbs News Sun]
Students and teachers at New Mexico Junior College’s Allied Health Center can be sure of a firm foundation without any low spots when the building opens next year.
That’s because Thursday morning 27 men poured and finished 180 yards of concrete as quickly as the cement truck could push its load into a tube lifted by a crane that extended some 30 feet into the air. The tube, connected to a hose, emptied the concrete into wood forms that gave the concrete floor its shape.
HB Construction project superintendent, Charles Lowery, pointed to a yellow-orange tripod at the north end of the form as he said, “The laser eye on that equipment guides the vibrating screed that levels the concrete so that there won’t be any bird baths in it.”
A screed is a piece of equipment that has a blade that lies flat against the wet concrete and bounces up and down, pushing air bubbles out of the concrete and getting it perfectly flat.
“But there is still some hand finishing that has to be done,” Lowery said as he indicated two men using hand tools to smooth the edges of the concrete along the forms.
The 14,000 square feet of flooring poured Thursday will contain the health sciences, chemistry laboratory and administrative offices when the building is complete, Lowery said.
Embedded in the concrete are a myriad of pipes, some only slightly elevated above the surface of the floor and some as tall as 24 inches above the surface.
“Some of those are conduits for electrical and communications wiring and some are the plumbing rough-ins,” Lowery said. “Pouring this concrete, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t get debris into them.”
One of the design problems posed by the location of the new building was how to get heating and cooling tubes and electrical and computer wiring from the new building, which is directly behind the Western Heritage Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame, to the control center in the Ben Alexander Center, which is at the south end of the campus, across Thunderbird Circle.
Getting the tubing and wiring in place and protected required digging a trench six feet deep and 64 inches across. Preparing the trench for its cargo of pipe and wiring will involve laying a foundation of red west Texas blow sand and covering pipe and wiring with red concrete, so if anyone is digging and encounters the sand or colored concrete, they’ll know they’re into something they need to investigate before going any further, Lowery said.
Part of getting pipe and wiring where it needs to go will involve diverting traffic from Thunderbird Circle and digging through the road to the southwestern area of the campus.
“I’ve got a plan for traffic diversion,” Lowery said. “We’re going to do this during the summer, so there will be minimal disruption of traffic. And things ought to be back to normal by the time the fall semester starts.”
Director of NMJC physical plant Charley Carroll said the project is on schedule despite a problem they didn’t anticipate.
“We knew we would encounter lots of caliche when we were digging the foundation, but in the process of digging, they found bed rock. When they called and told me about the bed rock, we had the choice of dynamiting or getting special equipment called a rock saw. We chose getting the rock saw,” Terrell said. “It cut through the rock without causing any damage to anything around it.”
Barring some unforeseen complication, Carroll said the building is expected to be completed by Dec. 3 and ready for classes when the spring semester starts in January 2019.
Moving the nursing school into the building will alleviate the problems created by an ever expanding number of nursing students without any expansion of facilities. The nursing school has been housed in the same building since 1965. According to NMJC officials, it has been overcrowded and has turned qualified students away for the past few years.
Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at education@ hobbsnews.com .