By: Blake Vickers
Progress on the construction of the Estill County Area Technology Center is moving along nicely. The tech center will offer a multitude of classes for students and residents of Estill County and others in the region. As of now, the building is slated to have a grand opening in August of 2021, just in time for the new school year. Superintendent Jeff Saylor recently provided an update on construction and a walk-through of the project.
“Things are coming on along. We had our board meeting last night and approved our pay application. Right now we’re at 30 percent completion. We’ve had several good weeks of weather that’s allowed construction to really start moving forward on some different aspects of the building that were held up by rain earlier in the year,” he said.
Construction on the tech center started beside the Estill County High School in January. Despite some harsh weather at the beginning of the year and issues with pyritic shale found in the ground, Saylor says that work on the tech center has proceeded nicely. As the construction team fell under the essential worker category, Covid-19 has had little impact on building efforts. However, contractors working on the project have had to follow health and safety guidelines from the governor’s office.
Work is also moving right along at the county’s new bus garage. Located near the high school, the garage will see completion in October.
The Area Technology Center will be a state of the art building offering a wide variety of classes and certifications for well paid jobs that are in demand in the region.
“The programs we will have in the technology center include advanced manufacturing, diesel, electrical technology, information technology, health sciences, and also pre-engineering. Those are all high-wage, high-demand jobs in our area. There are estimates of over 50,000 jobs in the next five years within a 50 to 75 mile radius of Estill County based on the programs that we’re going to be offering and the certifications kids will be able to obtain here,” Saylor said.
Students will not be the only ones benefiting from the tech center’s completion, as classes will also be available for adults.
“As part of our cooperation in our agreement with Bluegrass Community and Technical College we’ll be offering adult programming in the evenings. When this facility opens next August, we’re not just going to be taking in students from Estill, Powell, and other surrounding counties. At 4:30 every afternoon we’re gonna have adult learners here as well,” Saylor said. “This facility won’t just be for students, it’ll be for adults, workforce training, and programs for displaced workers. EKU and Moorehead are also looking at offering opportunities here as well towards degrees in their programs,” he said.
The Estill County Area Technology center is the 14 million dollar effort of state, federal, and local funding. Saylor says that the building will be something Estill County can be proud of.
“This is something that’s been talked about in Estill County for 20 years. As a district team, I’m glad that we’ve been able to deliver on a dream that has been around for a long time. It wouldn’t have happened without that district team and the work that they’ve done under two different grant programs. We’ve got a 14 million building here and 9.7 million of that is grant funding,” Saylor said.
“We’re thankful for the people of Estill County. This is going to be something that they can be proud of for years to come. It’s all part of being an Engineer. You go big or go home. And that’s what we’re doing here,” he said.