AEP Gives $25,000 for Industrial Tech Center at WVNCC in Wheeling

Photo by Linda Comins Presenting a $25,000 grant from AEP for West Virginia Northern Community College’s new Industrial Technology Center Tuesday are, from left, Bill Meier and Joelle Connors of AEP; Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer; Vicki L. Riley, WVNCC president, and Rana Spurlock, WVNCC Foundation executive director.

WHEELING — A leading utility official’s education and career came full circle Tuesday when he presented a $25,000 gift to his alma mater, West Virginia Northern Community College.

Chris Beam, president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Power in Charleston, returned to the college in Wheeling when he and representatives of the company’s subsidiary, American Electric Power, presented a check from the AEP Foundation to WVNCC President Vicki L. Riley. It is the largest gift to date for the college’s new Industrial Technology Center, which is set to open in August.

He told Riley, “It’s excellent what you’re doing. I actually went here a long, long time ago. It got my career started.”

Beam, who grew up in Hannibal, enrolled at WVNCC’s Wheeling campus in 1988 and studied electronics technology. Referring to that training, he said, “It’s why I got hired at the plant.”

He began his career at AEP’s now-closed Kammer Plant in Moundsville. “I’ve been with them ever since,” he said.

The AEP Foundation awarded the grant to WVNCC to support the new facility that will house and expand the college’s welding and petroleum technology programs. The center is located in the former Wesco electrical supply warehouse at 1803 Eoff St.

The money will be used for furniture, fixtures and equipment in the new center. The building is being repurposed as an open lab space encompassing more than 20,000 square feet. The facility will include a petroleum technology lab, a welding lab, classrooms and a student lounge.

AEP Customer Services Engineer Bill Meier said the Industrial Technology Center will provide valuable training for the workforce of AEP and the oil and gas industry in general.

Looking at the facility, he said, “It’s a pretty incredible repurposing of the building.”

Riley agreed, noting the significance of having “an old industrial warehouse we repurposed for industrial training.”

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