By Carol Ann Gregg
Allied News Staff Writer
It might look like vanilla on the outside, but inside the new U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) National Training Center building in Slippery Rock is an explosion of state-of-the-art flavor.
The facility sits atop Scenery Hill behind Allegheny Valley School and Slippery Rock Hardware, off Grove City Road (Route 173). Pascoe Builders, New Castle, has spent the last nine months on the 25,300-square-foot project.
Frank Pascoe and his crew put the finishing touches on the office building before turning it over to the federal government this week.
“My sons and I had to go through the highest security clearances before work began on this building,” Pascoe said.
The reception area has video surveillance screens showing areas outside and inside the building.
“There is only one other building, in Clarksburg, W. Va., like this one,” said Robert Coulter, building management specialist, OPM. This building will be where interviewers – who investigate employee candidates for government positions – are trained.
Pascoe said that the project had to meet very strict specifications to meet environmental standards for green buildings and energy efficiency requirements.
“All the lights are controlled by body heat,” Pascoe said. “When someone enters a room the lights come on. When no one is there, they go off.”
On a tour through the facility, Pascoe pointed out many of the features that provide for flexibility in the use of the building.
The whole building has a suspended floor: A concrete floor was first poured. Above that is another floor with all the wiring for electric and communications in the space between. The carpet squares can be pulled up so computer access can be moved to another location in the room. The carpet squares can then be put back down, covering the first location.
The large training room could be divided into as many as five classrooms for 30 students each, which will also have computer stations for students. Regardless of how the space is configured, the instructors will have access to video screens that retract into the ceiling.
Small practice interview rooms are set up, in which interviews are videotaped so the student and instructor can later critique it.
“If someone in Washington wants to see what is going on here, they have access through the system,” Pascoe added.
In another large space there is room for about 60 cubicles for permanent staff. On the perimeter of this space are individual offices for the center’s administrators.
It is anticipated that there will be about 100 employees in the building. According to Mike Orenstein, OPM communications, jobs will be open for local job seekers.
“Jobs are posted online at usajobs.gov. They can be accessed by agency or location,” Orenstein said.
The facility will be used for basic investigator classes which are three weeks long. “It will also be available for other training sessions,” Orenstein said.
In the center of the facility is a small room that is completely secure where high security files will be stored. Pascoe pointed out that this room is surrounded by cement and steel. It has its own heating and ventilating system.
There are the usual janitor closets, rest-rooms and other necessities. There is a large break room, vending area and kitchenette where staff can prepare lunches. It could also be used as a set up area for a caterer.
In the hallway outside the large classroom space, both sides of the hall are lined with open wooden locker-like spaces for the participants to hang coats and store other items. There are smaller conference rooms and several storage rooms.
Published in Allied News Sept. 12, 2009. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.
By Carol Ann Gregg
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