LISBON - With an increase in the need for welders in the area, the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center awarded contracts Tuesday for a $1.27 million expansion to the welding lab. Patrick Lankey of Strollo Architects showed the board the project's drawings and information about what will be included. The project will double the space available to the program and will be two-phased.
The area where the former health academy was located will be renovated first, creating new booths and a new welding lab exhaust system, which will whisk away gas fumes from students. The current lab does not meet the requirement that the welding project be six inches from the fan. It is now four feet.
About June 1, the equipment in the old lab and some new equipment the school is currently budgeting $500,000 to purchase, will be moved into the new space. At that point, the old space will be renovated, including classroom space for students to design their project, locker space for 150 male students and a women's locker area as well. Room will be available to put in an inspection area so projects can be checked.
Lankey said his team "worked very diligently with the administration and instructors" making sure the project meets their needs, especially the space and electrical needs for the equipment.
Stitle Construction was awarded the general contract at $460,700. The plumbing contract went to Ellyson Plumbing and Heating for $62,285. The HVAC will be provided by Standard Plumbing and Heating at a cost of $485,293. Finally, Graft Electric will be doing the electrical at $266,571.
All the contractors are county employers except Standard Plumbing and Heating, which is located in the Canton area.
Although the project came in about $200,000 higher than anticipated, Treasurer Katherine Bosco said the district can handle the expense. What the board discussed as most critical is the timeline. With 50 new juniors expected to join the program next year and 25 more becoming seniors, the new space needs to be ready by the time school begins in the fall. Additionally, adult education numbers are on the rise. They utilize the same labs in the evening.
Adult education director Kelly Weikart told the board figures show that between the 2007-08 school year and now, the number of adult education students has doubled. She expects another increase next year. Right now 58 adults are studying welding and she expects as many as 100 next year.
Superintendent Chuck Adkins said they are considering adding additional administration to the adult education program, noting right now the numbers are showing a real need for it.
Assistant Superintendent Jeremy Corbisello said he recently spoke to people at Butech Bliss in Salem about their needs and the company is already planning to hire two people from the CTC and provide an internship to a junior student. They have also been talking to the Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition about future career trends.
Board members discussed other ways the school could expand to meet the needs of local employers. They asked about the possibility of offering truck driving, electrical, machine trades and diesel. Some, Adkins said, they have looked into and some are being considered.