published Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Marion County board OKs money for college project

JASPER, Tenn. — As construction of the first building for Marion County's new career and technical school continues in Kimball, county leaders are preparing for the project's second phase.

The Marion County Commission has voted to approve amendments to the project contracts it has with Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects in Chattanooga and Dillard Construction Inc. in Dayton, Tenn., so preliminary work on a second building can begin.

Phase two of the project will be a structure that will house multiple vocational and technical classes.

"We're certainly willing to expand from there," Commissioner Jane Dawkins said. "I hope this is a project that will continue on. This has been a very important target for me to see this done."

The initial work for the second structure will need to be completed so the county can apply for grant money and other funding to help get it built, she said.

"We need to determine exactly what structure is going to be built and what that cost estimate is going to be," County Mayor John Graham said. "Until we allow them to move forward, we won't know how we're going to fund it."

A representative of Dillard Construction said having the cost estimates and architect's drawings beforehand helps make a stronger case for the county to receive grant money for the project down the road.

"We're at that point now, and that preliminary work has to be paid for," Dawkins said.

The board capped the funds needed for that groundwork at $73,000 for Hefferlin + Kronenberg and $27,000 for Dillard Construction.

The construction of the next building will have to be bid out just like the first building, Dawkins said, but the preliminary work can be done by the current architect and project manager without the bidding process.

Commissioner Tommy Thompson said some money has been set aside for the next building, and that is what will fund the preliminary work.

"It took us, like, three and a half years to get us to the point we're at now, so this will be getting that seed planted and maybe it will grow by the time we can secure some future funding," he said.

Area industry leaders are "screaming" for students who have technical training, Thompson said.

"Cosmetology was not mentioned in their requests," he said. "That trades building would be what I would push and like to see happen next."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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