Jan 17, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterWork at the Wind River Job Corps Center property near Riverton Regional Airport is progressing on schedule, according to government representatives associated with the project.
The $41.3 million facility is set to be completed by 2015, with opening day scheduled for April 9 of that year.
Foundation and site work is ongoing now, with one or two walls already constructed, according to John Schmidt, operations field leader for Wind River production operations for Encana Oil and Gas.
Schmidt has visited the site in the past month, and he plans to go again in February. When it is completed, the WRJCC will have an energy industry focus, with coursework also available in construction, heavy equipment and diesel mechanics, electrical and facilities maintenance, office administration, medical office and allied health work, and welding.
"I think it's a great project," Schmidt said. "It's something that we in the community need."
His company will be involved in work on the east side of the property, where students will get hands-on experience in a simulated oil and gas field. Schmidt said Encana and other energy partners will construct several specialized units at the site once the project is further along.
"It's been basically field prep for us (so far)," he said.
He is excited that coursework at the WRJCC will center on energy production --no other Job Corps in the nation has that focus.
"(Our) industry has kind of been overlooked by the government for some time," he said. "It's nice to see they're taking an interest."
He's also glad Wyoming will finally have a Job Corps next year --the Cowboy State is the last to get one.
"There is such a need for qualified help out there that it's a great, great opportunity," he said.
The completed center will include seven buildings totaling about 162,000 gross square feet, with facilities including a welcome center; administrative, wellness and student service buildings; an educational and vocational building; a cafeteria and warehouse building; a recreation center; and two, two-story dormitories --one for men and one for women.
"It's going to be quite impressive," Schmidt said.
Government representatives said one of the main features of the plant will be a geothermal field that is being installed this month. The field, combined with a low-impact waste management system, should keep the facility energy efficient and sustainable.
A number of local people have been hired to help build the facility, and once a plant operator is selected, organizers will begin looking for employees to staff the Job Corps. Sandy Barton, executive director of the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Educational Services, said several potential operators will visit the site in February.
"They'll look at the community and see if they want to bid on our (Job Corps)," she said.
The U.S. Department of Labor is tentatively scheduled to start looking for potential operators by the end of January.
Rafter H Construction LLC of Rexburg, Idaho, was awarded the bid to construct the WRJCC in July 2013, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site in August. The Job Corps will provide academic assistance and career and technical training to about 300 students ages 16 to 24 and will employ roughly 100 people. It initially was slated to be built by 2011, with local organizers working on the project since 2004.
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