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Building for the future

Alissa Widman Neese • Jan 30, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Dave Jenkins’ daily patrols through EHOVE Career Center’s new wing are filled with hope for the future.

Although the building’s hallways and freshly painted rooms are still void of students, 50 or so construction workers and the whir of complex equipment often keep them fully occupied.

In a few short months, some of the region’s youngest and brightest minds should populate the area.

The facility project is progressing nicely, both on budget and on schedule, said Jenkins, EHOVE Career Center’s operations director.

“The project has gotten very exciting in the last couple of weeks” he said. “There are now enough walls in place to see how each space is going to come out. The vision we had for the new space has become a reality”

Jenkins offered the Register an exclusive tour this past week, to give readers a firsthand look at the project’s growth.

The career-technical school quietly broke ground for the expansion in July.    

The building is expected to be fully completed in June 2014, although students could occupy certain areas as early as this spring.

The project includes an expansion that connects the school’s existing C Building and F Building, as well as an entirely new building, which has yet to be officially named. The new building will house mostly science and technology students in expansive labs and high-tech classrooms.

It includes many large windows and skylights to let in natural light, saving on energy costs and creating a more efficient work environment for students.

“Many recent studies have shown that students achieve better and pay attention more in natural light,” Jenkins said. “We want it to have a college-type feel to it”

The project, about 66,700-square feet, costs about $8.2 million in local funding.

EHOVE is using a special financing plan, Certificates of Participation, which allows the school to avoid asking the voters for new money. The school effectively leases the facility during construction, then eventually assumes ownership of the building. About $7.5 million in construction costs are being financed this way.

In addition, the career-technical center also set aside $1 million in permanent improvement funds to cap off the project.

Simply put: To make it happen, the school didn’t need voter approval of a new tax levy or bond issue.

“It was important to us that we built something that was within our means, while still meeting our immediate space and programming needs” Jenkins said.

Nonetheless, voters approved a replacement levy in November, generating $1.5 million annually for the career-technical center and stabilizing its budget for the next five years.

High school programs moving into the new and renovated spaces include computer networking technology, global business management, visual media technology and various science classes. The adult education certified occupational therapy assistant program, as well as EHOVE Career Center’s information technology department and other administrative staff, are also expected to utilize the space.

The project is EHOVE-focused, as many of the career-technical center’s locally employed graduates completed work on the project, Jenkins said.

Some of the school’s current students also signed a beam in the main hallway of the new building, designating them as the building’s first occupants.

“We really wanted the students to feel like a part of this, because all this work is to benefit them,” Jenkins said. “Now their names will be on this building forever”

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