Murray State University officials described clean-up work underway, university priorities and where the students will live, following the blast at a residential college last week.
On Wednesday, June 28, New Richmond Residential College suffered extensive damage from an explosion involving a suspected natural gas leak. One employee was injured, but remarkably no students were in the building. Nearby buildings and vehicles were also damaged.
Murray State Vice President Dr. Adrienne King described university staff and volunteers over the weekend collected student and visitor belongings in Hester Hall: 45 staff and faculty volunteers worked Friday night and Saturday. 70 visitors. President Dr. Bob Davies thanked faculty and staff for their help on Monday.
"One of the things that we're really proud of, if you think about the incident that happened last week. It's pretty dramatic and it had a huge impact on this college campus. And yet here we are a week later. The clean up has been phenomenal. Faculty and staff across campus have rallied. Our facilities management folks have been outstanding working long, hard hours to get done what needed to get done. We have worked with our local and state officials, which has shown incredible teamwork and collaboration. Folks have really rallied for the racer community and we're excited to be able to be moving forward and as President Davies said in his letter on July 3rd, we're ready to rebuild. So we're moving forward," King said.
- CFSB Center cleared over the weekend. Elevator cleared for use on Monday.
- Intramural field was cleaned up and cleared on Monday.
- All summer camps still going on.
- City has been on site to assist in emergency response immediately following the incident and in the days after. The state fire marshal has approved clean up outside of the direct impact area.
Working to clear debris and board up windows damaged by the shockwave. Contractors working on renovations to the Winslow dining hall. Goal is to have the building operational by the Fall semester.
"Our priority has been to clear each one of these buildings. Working with engineers to check the structural integrity of the buildings, checking each and every one of the utilities in the buildings. Despite the fact that campus was just checked for it fire alarms and sprinklers we will go back through and do that yet again because our number one priority is to make sure our campus is safe before we have students or any other visitors in these buildings," King said.
NEW RICHMOND STUDENTS:
- Housing office working on assignments. Assignments available on MyGate by July 22.
- Goal to offer housing for all students who applied for housing.
- Housing rates for students won't change from those approved by the Board of Regents at the June meeting. With a consideration New Richmond students detailed below.
- Facilities working on cosmetic improvements to old Richmond Hall for students to move into in the Fall. This includes plaster, painting, sprucing it up.
Students from New Richmond can move into the Old Richmond. King detailed a housing rate for those students should they choose to move of $2,000 per semester (discount of $385 per semester) ($1,279 less than the semester rate they would have paid in New Richmond should they choose to move to the affiliated residential college.) They need to contact housing office before July 11 with preference, assigned by seniority.
King said it is too early to say if there has been any impact on enrollment following the incident. She says the university is working to reassure students and parents.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE BUILDING:
New Richmond is expected to be offline for the fall semester. King said it is too early to determine whether the structure will be rebuilt or demolished. She said those involved in the insurance process have been on campus. She said the university is also working with state officials, but wouldn't go into detail.
She said questions regarding details on the specific cause of the suspected natural gas leak and whether there was any correlation with other maintenance work would have to be directed to the state fire marshal, who is doing an assessment.
Thursday's briefing is the last media briefing planned at this time, King said. Further details would likely come from a fire marshal report.
This story has been updated.