Evers at UW-Stout South Hall renovation

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks at UW-Stout Tuesday about his proposed 2019-2021 capital budget, which includes $35 million for a proposed South Hall renovation and addition.

If Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget for 2019-2021 is passed, a freshman residence hall at the University of Wisconsin-Stout may be renovated as soon as 2023.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers made a stop in Menomonie Tuesday to speak about his proposed 2019-2021 budget, which includes a $35 million proposal for renovating and building an addition for South Hall.

“Right now South Hall is not accessible to everyone. That’s unacceptable, unacceptable for any campus,” Evers said at a Tuesday news conference at UW-Stout’s Memorial Student Center. State Sen. Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset) and university leaders also spoke Tuesday.

The 76,000-square-foot, four-story South Hall was built in the 1960s and has 366 beds, said UW-Stout Executive Director of Communications Doug Mell.

The project would renovate the 51-year-old building and add 14,000 square feet of new construction, Mell said.

However, the future of the South Hall renovations depends on Evers’ proposed 2019-2021 capital budget passing in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Joint Finance Committee is still holding hearings on the budget, Mell said. Stout leaders spoke at a hearing in River Falls Monday and urged the committee to consider the budget.

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Building Commission voted down Evers’ budget in March, the Associated Press reported. Evers hit back Tuesday, saying Republicans were “playing politics,” and that “disappointment is what I would call an understatement.”

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UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer said Evers highlighting South Hall in his budget was significant: “It’s one of those projects that could easily get lost as the Joint Finance Committee puts together its list of capital projects for 2019-21.”

UW-Stout must ask the state for the ability to borrow the funds, which will be paid back through student housing fees. A student who commutes will not pay anything toward the project, Lyons said.

The South Hall renovation project would:

  • Add elevators, restrooms and circulation stairs;
  • Create an accessible entrance;
  • Expand and remodel bathrooms into shared commons, lounge and kitchen spaces;
  • Install new exterior windows and doors;
  • Replace obsolete mechanical, telecom, security and life-safety systems;
  • Improve fire alarm and smoke detection systems; and
  • Replace the roof and repair the hall’s exterior.

Most of the original building’s heating and ventilation systems “perform poorly and require constant maintenance,” according to Evers’ budget. Plumbing fixtures, water heaters, piping and roof drains need replacing, and the water service can’t support a sprinkler system.

According to Evers’ proposed budget, construction would begin around September 2023 and finish in December 2025.

Schachtner also praised the project Tuesday: “(Kids) are signing up to invest in education, and the least we as legislators can do is provide them a safe environment in which to learn.”

UW-Stout provost Patrick Guilfoile and Stout Student Association Hannah Bragelman also spoke in support of the budget, praising its proposal of two 2% raises for UW System faculty and staff between 2019 and 2021.

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Dunn County News editor

Sarah Seifert edits and reports for the Dunn County News. Contact her with tips or story ideas at 715-450-1557 or at editor@dunnconnect.com.

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