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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Clark College’s Ridgefield campus ‘tops out,’ marks construction milestone

Ceremony celebrates construction as crews fit top beam into building’s frame

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
8 Photos
Workers move a beam into position Thursday during a "topping out" ceremony at Clark College's Boschma Farms campus in Ridgefield. The beam is the final piece of the structure of the school's new Advanced Manufacturing Center, which will be completed next year.
Workers move a beam into position Thursday during a "topping out" ceremony at Clark College's Boschma Farms campus in Ridgefield. The beam is the final piece of the structure of the school's new Advanced Manufacturing Center, which will be completed next year. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — Oswald the Penguin celebrated a big moment Thursday.

Before a crowd of Clark College staff, construction workers, Southwest Washington dignitaries and the beloved avian mascot himself, workers added the final steel beam to the community college’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center in Ridgefield.

The process of adding the final beam to complete the frame is known as a “topping out” ceremony, which is considered a major construction milestone for any project. The facility, at Boschma Farms at 264 N. 65th Ave., is expected to be complete in late 2024, in time for classes to begin in 2025.

“Our vision is for this progressive instructional center to serve our growing region and the critical workforce needs, including advanced manufacturing,” said Clark President Karin Edwards prior to the ceremony.

Atop the beam were an American flag and an evergreen tree sapling – a tradition that construction leaders say represents persistence and a respect for a higher power. Dozens of Clark staff and each of the workers involved in construction also took a moment to sign the beam before it was added.

“The history of ‘topping out’ represents a symbol of gratitude for the hard work that has brought us to this moment,” said Mike Dickey, the senior project manager with Mortenson, the general contractor. “This tradition is a moment of reflection on a job well done.”

Another step toward growth

At the official ground-breaking of the project last year, school leaders and Ridgefield city officials called it a serious investment in the long-term growth of north Clark County.

Thursday, Ridgefield’s growth was again showcased as a major asset to Clark College going forward.

“Ridgefield is one of the fastest-growing areas in Clark County,” said Cristhian Canseco Juarez, the chair of Clark College’s Board of Trustees. “This building not only stands as a testament to the college’s commitment to innovation and growth but also underscores our dedication to our community needs and providing the local industry with highly skilled workers.”

Clark College recently announced that it, too, is experiencing growth after a period of enrollment decline amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Between fall 2022 and fall 2023, the school saw a 10.4 percent increase among full-time students.

When completed, the 49,000-square-foot facility will be able to serve an estimated 1,200 students. The center will feature several classrooms, faculty offices, four lab spaces and a manufacturing floor, where students will learn skills in engineering, renewable energy and environmental science.

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