- Associated Press - Sunday, May 11, 2014

POPLARVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Construction delays mean Pearl River Community College won’t be holding its upcoming graduation ceremonies at the college’s new coliseum.

Construction on M.R. White Coliseum was to have been completed in May 2013. But, The Hattiesburg American reported (http://hatne.ws/1nnXp0t) there have been numerous delays. The opening date had been moved to March 1, forcing the school’s basketball teams to play their games once again in the 500-seat Shivers Gymnasium.

Now, school officials hope for an opening date this summer.

College President William Lewis said the delays have been frustrating.

Project manager Wes Cooke of contractor Rod Cooke Construction of Mobile, Alabama, said the company is close to completion.

The M.R. White Coliseum is being built in the footprint of the original structure of the same name destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.

Lewis said poor weather in 2012 initially delayed construction, but he said he’s unclear about the root of more recent problems.

“To be honest, I can’t answer that. You’ll just have to ask the contractor,” Lewis said. “They just have been very slow with their construction for whatever reason.”

Cooke said design changes have played a major role in delays and PRCC officials have been kept in the loop about them.

“Anytime that you change the scope of the work it’s going to affect the duration of the project,” he said.

The coliseum will seat up to 2,800 people, about 500 more than the old building.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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