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Career and technology center to augment expansion project

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center plans on an even bigger expansion than first thought.

In January, center director Rich Payne talked of expanding the 5-year-old campus on South Silver Springs Road by constructing a 9,600-square-foot electrical shop and classroom building east of the current school.

Today, architectural plans call for constructing a 12,000-square-foot structure that would include shop space to teach students the skills of cabinet making.

"We have a big need in this area for cabinet making," Payne said.

S&W Cabinets Inc. is expanding its operations into the former Columbia Sportswear sewing plant in Chaffee, Mo. The cabinet maker is based in Chaffee.

Payne said the career center expansion would provide skilled workers that the region's cabinet makers need.

Cabinet maker Leonard Beussink, whose Jackson business is now run by his son, said the industry would benefit by being able to hire better-trained workers.

"It would be a good thing," he said. Today's cabinet manufacturers use many high-tech machines to manufacture their products, Beussink said.

The new shop area at the career center would include computer-aided machines that are common in the industry, Payne said.

The new building would be constructed east of the existing career center. It's designed to look like the existing building with its brick exterior and green roof. "Everything will be identical," Payne said.

In addition to the electrical and cabinet-making shops and classrooms, the structure would include needed storage space, he said. Lawnmowers used in cutting grass at the career center and adjacent Cape Central High School would be housed in the storage area, Payne said.

Payne said architectural estimates indicate that the new building could be constructed for $1.5 million or less, the same price tag school officials envisioned for a smaller expansion.

The state has appropriated $750,000 for the project. Ameren has donated $150,000 and private pledges are expected to pay the rest of the cost.

In August it was announced the career center would receive $250,000 in state tax credits to help raise the private funds. Payne said he plans to have the private money in the bank before any construction work starts.

The construction price tag doesn't include the cost of equipping the new building. But Payne said the state will pay 75 percent of the cost of equipment as it does for other career centers in the state.

If the building can be constructed for $1.2 million or $1.3 million, Payne said the savings could be used to help equip the facility. He hopes to get some labor and materials donated.

The Cape Girardeau school board in late September hired Phillip B. Smith Architect LLC of Cape Girardeau at a cost of $50,000 to design the expansion.

The school board could approve construction plans at its Nov. 20 meeting, Payne said.

A contract could be awarded in January, he said. Depending on the weather, the new building could be finished by the end of July.

The goal, he said, is to have the new building open by the start of classes next fall.


335-6611, extension 123

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