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Work yet to be done, UHV Jaguar Hall opens

By By DIANNA WRAY
Sept. 18, 2010 at 4:18 a.m.
Updated Sept. 20, 2010 at 4:20 a.m.

UHV freshman line up to get their assigned room numbers at Jaguar Hall on Saturday.

Chanae Middlebrooks stood in the middle of her room at Jaguar Hall, surrounded by boxes.

The air conditioning unit in the window was missing knobs to adjust the temperature. The bathtub faucet wobbled unsteadily in her hand and a gentle tug showed the toilet paper holder was not attached to the wall. Still, Middlebrooks said she was excited to be moving into Jaguar Hall, the new University of Houston-Victoria dormitory.

"There are still some things that need to be fixed, but I'm happy we're finally here," she said.

After a monthlong delay, students moved into Jaguar Hall on Saturday.

The remodeling project turning the old Holiday Inn into Jaguar Hall, a residence hall that would accommodate 258 students, started in May. The building was scheduled to open Aug. 19, a week before classes would start, but water damage and the removal of mold caused construction crews to be delayed, said UHV assistant vice president for student success and enrollment management Chari Norgard.

"With any major remodeling project there may be problems. We just ran into a lot of unexpected problems, like mold. There was a lot of mold. But it's all gone now," Norgard said, smiling.

When it became apparent the dorms wouldn't be open in time, university officials changed the move-in date to Sept. 5 and delayed the start of freshman classes until Sept. 7. The dorms still weren't ready by then, and 188 students scheduled to become residents were put up at area hotels. The university covered meals and transportation, but it was still frustrating, freshman Brandon Bohanon said.

"It's just been a bunch of chaos. Everyone's been all spread out and we don't know who's who. It'll be nice to be around other people, seeing everyone in the same place," Bohanon said.

Since then, workers and university employees have worked hard to finish the remodeling and get the dorm ready to open, Norgard said.

On Saturday, it finally happened. At 8 a.m., movers started hauling the belongings of 140 students into the dorms.

The dorm isn't finished yet. While 140 students moved in on Saturday, accommodations for the other 48 still weren't complete.

Those students are expected to move in by the end of this week.

Norgard said the dorm, including classrooms and offices, should be complete by mid- to late October.

Instructional time will be made up for the freshman classes by extending class periods, allowing freshman students to finish the semester the same time as the upperclassmen, Norgard said.

Norgard said it's a relief just to start getting students into the dormitory.

"It's wonderful. This is something we've been working on for a long time. None of us has been happy with the delays, but everyone's been great about it and now they're moving in," Norgard said.

The remodeling work continues. On Saturday, construction materials sat piled in the main lobby of the hall and the fans ran nonstop to help the fresh paint dry. The building still isn't completed, but students eagerly buzzed through the halls, finding their new rooms and unpacking their belongings.

Freshman Danielle Mapps watched as movers tugged her belongings into the room she'll share with Middlebrooks. Mapps has known what colors she'll decorate her side of the room in for the past month - orange and light blue - and now she'll get to unpack the boxes and bags she brought with her from Houston. She said she's just happy to be in her room after a month of waiting.

"It feels good. I thought it would never happen, but now it's finally here. I'm moving in," she said said.

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