BBCC Prepares Proposal for Professional/Technical Training Center

Posted on Feb 27, 2014

 Welders often work outdoors, but the materials they use should be protected from the elements. A BBCC welding student is shown here surrounded by scrap metal and equipment covered with snow because the college does not have the storage space. Genie Industries has donated scrap metal to BBCC’s welding program in recent years “worth tens of thousands of dollars,” according to welding instructor Shawn McDaniel. Genie’s donations allow precious resources to be used for other essential supplies and materials needed to train welders. Genie hires many of the students who complete BBCC’s welding program. –BBCC photo
Big Bend Community College is working with an architect to prepare a capital proposal for state funding of a Professional/Technical Education Center (PTEC) to be submitted by Feb. 28.

The status of the BBCC capital request to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, however, won’t be known until the 2015 legislative session.

“There have been conversations in the community that the college is on the verge of getting a new training center, and we wish that were true,” said BBCC President Terry Leas.

College officials should know in May how BBCC’s proposal ranks with other capital projects submitted by the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.

“There is incredible local support and interest,” said BBCC President Terry Leas. “We have been getting calls from the media,”

Gail Hamburg, BBCC Vice President of Financial and Administrative Services, is working with architects to write “a compelling case” for PTEC. The project will cost an estimated $25 to $30 million. If the pieces fall in place, PTEC could be completed in late 2018 or early 2019.

“The word at this time is seven projects could be funded statewide; if we are ranked in the top five, we will be in a good position,” said Hamburg. “But there is no way of predicting this far in advance what the state’s economy will be like one year from now.”

It will be another year before BBCC knows much more. In December the governor submits his budget to the state Legislature. The legislature will decide the level of capital funding allocated to community and technical colleges in early 2015. The capital budget will determine how many of the projects on the priority list get funded.“

It is good to know so many people understand the need for a training center to support the growing industrial base in Big Bend’s service district,” Leas said. “We especially need larger, well-designed and modern space in which to meet employers’ increasing demand for skilled workers.”

College officials said the leaders of local entities have been eager to write letters of support for the project. Letters of support have been received from the Port of Moses Lake, Port of Ephrata, Grant County Economic Development Council, Central Washington University, SGL/BMW, Moses Lake School District, and the City of Moses Lake. The letters will be submitted as attachments with the capital proposal.

Most of BBCC’s professional/technical programs are located in 60-year-old buildings constructed for Larson Air Force Base. Those programs include automotive technology, aviation maintenance technology, industrial systems technology, and welding. “Our existing facilities unfortunately reinforce the stereotype that professional-technical education is dirty and dangerous when the opposite is true,” Leas said.

The current facilities weren’t designed for education and training and are substandard and too small.

“We don’t have the space and equipment to accommodate our partnerships with local employers and local school districts,” Leas said. “A modern education center will be designed to align with and supplement the new Moses Lake School District’s Skills Center and ensure a seamless transition from high school to college.”