Watson Dorm, Williamson’s first new dorm since 1912, was dedicated in a special ceremony on Alumni Day.
The dedication opened with a prayer by Rev. Mark Specht 7W7 and remarks by President Michael Rounds, Board Chairman William Bonenberger and David Watson, a member of the Board of Trustees and son of the late Wayne Watson 4W8, for whom the dorm is named.
Rounds told the audience some things about the person for whom the building is named — Wayne Watson 4W8. Watson joined the Board of Trustees in 1971 and served as chairman from 1983 to 2016. He was the first board chairman to be honored with the title “Emeritus Chairman.”
He also thanked the anonymous donor whose extremely generous gift made the construction of the dorm possible. He thanked Kevin Blackney 7W6, of Blackney Hayes Architects, for designing the new dorm to look exactly like the original dorms designed by Frank Furness. And, he thanked Board Chairman William Bonenberger, whose company, W.B. Homes, served as construction management, and whose employee, Steve Cava 9W5, served as project manager.
Bonenberger said, “I am especially pleased that my company was involved in this important construction project because this is the school where I got my start. It is now payback time.”
He then thanked the alumni who were contracted and went beyond what was expected of them, putting in many hours as volunteers and, in some cases, donating materials.
Fran Shoup 9W3, put in many hours of volunteer time in addition to his contracted work. He, along with Rinker and Brown Custom Carpentry, the construction company owned by Ron Rinker and John Brown, both from the class of 8W5, put in the front and back porches and did other carpentry work. Rinker and Brown did the installation of the interior trim, all door hardware, and cabinets. Mario Cetroni 9W3, owner of Marco Painting, was contracted for all of the painting and put in many hours of volunteer work and contributed many materials. Phoenix Masonry, owned by Tom Collins 8W1, provided the lead mason and together with some masonry students, laid the block for the elevator shaft and emergency stairs.
Other companies contracted included North Concrete, who donated all labor and material for the footings, foundations, and miscellaneous flatwork; Advanced Sprinkler, who donated all of the fire sprinkler material; Huber Wood Products issued a large cash refund because they were able to use all ZIP wall and Advantech plywood products; Jim Goldhorn, owner of Goldhorn Electric, was contracted to perform all of the electrical work, but also spent many hours designing the alternative electric service and new transformer, saving the project over $50,000 and making it possible to replace the old electric switch box that had needed replacing for several years, but could not get done because of the cost. Goldhorn also value-engineered all of the fixtures to get the best value.
From Good Mechanical, Rod Kratz, the owner, Adam Clemmer, of the Plumbing Division, Glen Bolks, of the HVAC Division, and Keith Hunsberger, of the HVAC Division, though contracted for all of the HVAC and plumbing work, value-engineered the systems, saving Williamson over $15,000 and making it possible to make the building use more plant generated steam and hot water than was originally anticipated. This will reduce the dependence on natural gas for the vast majority of the time that hot water will be in demand when the students are living in the dorm, and will also greatly reduce the long-term operating costs of the system because of removing the dependence on natural gas, which now will only be used when the plant is not online and or when demand for hot water exceeds the capacity, which should be rare.
This construction project also provided students with some practical hands-on experience. Masonry students helped construct the elevator shaft, carpenters worked with Rinker and Brown installing the interior trim, painters, under the direction of Mario Centroni, did much painting, and horticulture students designed and installed the landscaping.
David Watson said, “My father would be very proud of this new dormitory, knowing the Watson name would be remembered in perpetuity on the campus of the school he loved. Although he couldn’t be here today, we all know he is smiling down from above.”
Next, a ribbon on the front porch was cut by Kevin Blackney 7W6, whose firm, Blackney Hayes Architects designed the dorm; Steve Cava 9W5, an employee of W.B. Homes, who served as the project manager; Marie Watson, wife of Wayne Watson; and Ray Drulik, president of the Class of 1W8.