Sidney Clay hall was closed in May 2007 to begin renovations that included new plumbing, air conditioning systems, electrical systems, and new windows. Residents were able to move back into the dorm beginning this semester. (Jonathan Kleppinger)

By Casey Tolliver

An EKU residence hall was recently reopened to students, after having a year off for a facelift. Last May it was announced that Clay Hall, the co-ed dorm behind Case and Burnam, would receive $7.5 million worth of major infrastructure renovations.

The alterations included plumbing, new air conditioning systems, electrical systems, and new windows.

According to EKU Director of Housing Kenna Middleton, the project was close enough to completion to let students in for the fall semester.

The final step of the process is two new elevators, the second of which will be fully installed and functioning within six weeks.

“Because of the size of the building, degree of work that needed to be completed and how much [the price of] things had gone up, some projects had to be put on hold, such as the elevator renovation, which meant that they weren’t completed by opening,” Middleton said.

During the cosmetic upgrade of Clay, Middleton noticed that the increase in the cost of living has definitely affected construction costs.

“When I checked the price for the Combs Hall renovation compared with the Clay Hall renovation, I noticed that construction costs have went up with the price of milk,” Middleton said. “Cost increases were one of the biggest issues.”

The renovations displaced 270 students, who had to find residence elsewhere during the past academic year.

Commonwealth Hall, formerly a male dormitory, was converted to co-ed to accommodate some of the residents of Clay Hall.

Middleton said that the goal of the renovation was to make the new Clay Hall feel less like a dorm and more like a home.

“Hopefully it will be a place students will feel comfortable and satisfied living in and an environment they can be proud of,” Middleton said. “We’re trying to make the residence halls.feel like you’re at home.”

After the Clay Hall construction dust had settled, some students felt that the university had accomplished just that.

“It’s really nice,” Clay resident Tyler Ward said. “It’s better than Commonwealth.”

Ward, a 19-year-old criminal justice major from Pikeville, lived in Commonwealth Hall for two years before moving into Clay this semester.

Ward said he feels comfortable in his new room, and added that the new decks with grills were also a nice touch.

Middleton said during the construction process there were no big problems, and since the newly renovated Clay Hall resumed housing students, there have been no complaints about maintenance or construction-related matters.