A GROUNDBREAKING EVENT at Baker College of Owosso for a new vet tech facility happened on Tuesday, June 30. Shown are (from left) Kraig Brueck (Baker director of campus safety), Jim Wenzlick (facilities director), Dr. Russ Ritchie (medical director), Elsie Velazquez (vet tech program director), Voula Erfourth (director of academic affairs), Mike Konopacke (director of student afffairs), Mary Slingerland (Baker Board of regents chair) and Scott Perrin (Perrin Construction).
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
A new vet tech groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday morning, June 30 at Baker College of Owosso. Baker’s Veterinary Technology program is going to be new to Owosso as it is relocating from Flint in the college’s campus consolidation effort.
The selected site for the $1 million, 4,500-square-foot building is near a rise on Gute Hill, overlooking Gute Street on the south side of Owosso. According to the press release, the building will include classrooms, diagnostic labs, offices, and treatment, operating and x-ray rooms. The program is planned to start in January 2021, though prerequisite classes will be available this fall.
Dr. Russ Ritchie will head the vet tech program as the newly appointed medical director. Ritchie, having family farming ties to the area, located to the county in 1980. In 1984, he founded what became Heritage Acres Veterinary Services (now located on M-21 in Caledonia Township). About five years ago, he sold his practice thinking he would slow down, but within two years he joined with Animal Health Care of Chesaning.
“You know, I’ve done so many things,” Ritchie said about his successful 40 years as a practicing vet. “This is just one more aspect I am now striving for to finish out my career.” He is excited to have the opportunity to share his extensive knowledge with others interested in the field.
Director of Academic Affairs Voula Erfourth shared Tuesday morning that a formal presentation was not planned for the event due to the pandemic, though the college still felt some recognition was needed. Work at the location will likely start next week.
The vet tech program director will be Elsie Velazquez, who has been with Baker College for 17 years. She, too, is excited to see the program transition to the new facility in Owosso.
Perrin Construction general contractor Scott Perrin was on hand for the groundbreaking, too. Perrin had a preliminary display of the building plans available for viewing that showed the exterior of the building would be designed to coordinate with other campus architecture. A peak area above the front door will have Tudor elements to compliment other Tudor features throughout the school. Perrin also offered some information on how the tip of the hill will be leveled as the foundation is built for the facility.