by Jim Silver
This year’s class of eight students is making good progress in the second phase of the project begun last school year, which is two more housing units for Custer County teachers.
Last year’s class completed the two ground floor apartments of the four-plex, which are presently occupied. Now, the garden-level units are under construction by this crew of mostly experienced hands in the carpentry trade, under the watchful eye of their instructor, Mr. Cole McCollum. “Mostly experienced” means that these young men—all juniors and seniors and half of them return attendees of this class– are demonstrating an ever-increasing body of skills and are making correct how-to decisions along the way. This is only from a reporter’s perspective, having observed some of them at work for a couple school years. They work during first period of the four-day school week, thus a bit short of seven hours of productive labor per week. That doesn’t sound like much time on the job, but Mr. McCollum has a good-sized crew who are keeping the project moving along on schedule, he states. Most days, an adult volunteer instructor is also on hand, and in the photo feature (page 12-13) are Newell Woodbury and Mike Varone.
Cole McCollum has years of experience in construction and many tricks of the trade to impart to his students, and they also have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from various sub-contractors. These have been the following: Tony Supan for concrete work—first off, cutting and removal of sections of the existing floor for plumbing. Local plumber Carl Batson taught the students some of his skills, as he has done in past years. Under-floor plumbing was installed and tested, after which Tony Supan returned to pour new concrete. Carl Batson will be back, as well. Brad Hough Electrical is once again on the job.
Three students stepped forward to learn some electrical skills: Kobe Lewsader, David Kinsey, and Dylan Schoch. Brad Hartbauer will be the landscape contractor, affording the students some outside work in the final step to this project.
Good progress has been made in framing over the past month, and Mr. McCollum says that this year, the class will proceed to hanging the drywall, as well. This is a cost-saving decision, plus providing another learning experience. The drywall finishing will be contracted out.
The Building Trades class is a valuable offering in the Custer County High School curriculum. It provides students the possibility of seeing themselves entering into the profession after graduation, or is at least preparation to be a more capable homeowner in the future. And, the pay-off for the school district is providing an affordable housing option for future faculty applicants– an attractive, spacious, nearly 1,100 sq. ft. one-bedroom home.