May 8, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterFederal representatives arrived in Riverton this week to discuss the next steps in the development of the Wind River Job Corps Center in Fremont County.
The $30-40 million facility is scheduled to open in 2015, providing academic assistance and career and technical training to about 550 students ages 16-24. Miriam Holst, a contract specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor, said it will be important to stick to the schedule once students start to enroll.
"Students are recruited in advance of the opening of the center," Holst said. "They make a commitment to enroll in these programs. (So) if Wind River isn't ready when we say we hope to have it ready, many of these students may decide to leave the program. And we don't want to see that."
Delays also will hurt the local economy, she said - the WRJCC should employ about 100 people once it opens.
Bids for construction are due June 13, with contracts expected to be awarded by June 30.
The center originally was set to open in 2011, so Holst said she is excited the process is moving forward now. She said CooverClark and Associates out of Denver has been working on the design for the campus since 2008.
"So this project has been out there for a period of time," Holst said. "We hope to get this project off the ground."
Later, she offered more confidence that the WRJCC would be built in the coming years.
"I'm going to say 'definitely' for Wind River," Holst said. "We certainly, certainly hope to see this through."
Carol Coover-Clark described plans for the "pedestrian" campus, which will include seven buildings measuring up to 165,000 square feet. The structures will be built in a circle surrounded by a loop road and parking areas, while the center of the property is dedicated to walkers. Coover-Clark pointed out the dry creek running through the middle of campus, with a basketball court and sand volleyball court nearby.
"It's a lot like you'd see at a normal college campus," she said. "There are places to live, play, eat and study."
She said a 200-square-foot welcome booth will be built on the northwest corner with a covered bus pavilion for students waiting to take public transportation off campus. A driveway will guide visitors into the property and toward a 20,000-square-foot administrative office and clinic which neighbors a 34,000 square foot education building to the east.
'Clean and dirty'
"It's comprised of what I'd typically call clean and dirty classrooms," Coover-Clark said of the education building. "Some classrooms are more like (a lecture hall), then there are classrooms where they're welding and doing shop kinds of things."
The job corps will have an energy industry focus, but officials said coursework also will be available in construction, heavy equipment and diesel mechanics, electrical and facilities maintenance, office administration, medical office and allied health work, and welding.
Sandy Barton, executive director of the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Educational Services, pointed out that the energy training will be focused on oil and gas production and not only rig work.
"(Rig work is) short lived and not good for our students," she said Wednesday. "They're doing production (so they can get) long term jobs for 20-30 years."
Coover-Clark said a 17,000-square-foot cafeteria and warehouse will sit southeast of the education building, and a 19,000 square-foot recreation building will be built next door.
"The little rec building here has a basketball court and some other kinds of workout areas inside," Coover-Clark said.
Next to the gym will be two 26,000 square-foot dormitories, one for men and one for women, and Coover-Clark pointed to plans for a family dorm and child care facility in the future.
"Those are not in this bid today, but they could be in the bid tomorrow," she said. "Currently it's an unfunded piece of the project that will be added to make this really a comprehensive live, work and play (center)."
Contractors are invited to submit questions about the project to contract specialist Olivia Thorpe at Thorpe.email@example.com by noon on May 15. Holst said answers will be posted online on or around May 22.
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