New LCSC center's 'next step is completing the design phase'

AP

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Lewis-Clark State College is nearing a final design for its career and technical education center and will move many of its most popular programs to the new location in the Lewiston Orchards.

The current proposed layout calls for auto mechanics; computer-controlled machining; information technology; engineering; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration; and industrial electronics technology to move to the new facility, according to a news release.

One year of engineering instruction for a new program in industrial maintenance-millwright technology also will be housed at the center, while the one-year welding component for that program will remain at the current location on the Normal Hill campus. Collision repair and diesel technology also will stay put.

Todd Kilburn, the college's vice president for finance and administration, said the project is on schedule for a fall 2020 opening.

"The next step is completing the design phase, at which point we'll have a budget," Kilburn said.

Once the budget is set, the college will seek the approval of the Idaho State Board of Education.

The estimated cost of the center is $20 million, but an exact number won't be known until the design is finalized. Idaho lawmakers have pledged $10 million, and Kilburn said the college can use its budget reserves to make up the balance.

But the college also will make a fundraising pitch to the local industries that will benefit from the skilled graduates the center will produce. Kilburn said the college has a goal of raising between $3 million and $4 million from private sources to help build the center, with about 75 percent coming from industry.

Official requests for donations haven't yet been made, but college representatives have had initial conversations with those businesses, he added.

The college also recently hired Jeffrey Ober as its new dean of Career and Technical Education. In the news release, Ober said that while many career and technical programs are at or near capacity, the new center will give them room to expand in the future to meet demand.

The steps toward construction put the college on pace with the Lewiston School District, which plans to open its new high school adjacent to the center at the same time. Voters overwhelmingly approved a $59.8 million bond last March to build the high school on land north of Warner Avenue.

Synergy between the high school's vocational programs and the college's center was a major component of the school district's pitch to the electorate. The city of Lewiston also has a stake in both projects, since its Community Park is under development on adjoining land.

City Administrative Services Director Dan Marsh said the city hasn't identified a funding source for its share of upgrades to Warner Avenue, which will have to bear the increased traffic that all three projects will generate. But Marsh said the $91 million assessed value assigned to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center after its conversion to a for-profit hospital will give the city council some options.

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Mills may be contacted at jmills@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2266.

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