Trades program moves forward

A program introduced last year at Colorado Northwestern Community College to give students hands-on experience in the construction trades is moving forward.

The program recently received a two-year grant from Tech-Prep, a state-funded initiative that promotes programs that will provide vocational education opportunities for high school students. Of the 34 Tech-Prep grant applications submitted, only 18 were approved.

The Construction Technology program is unique to the region and involves the collaborative efforts of CNCC, the Town of Rangely, and the RE-4 Rangely School District.

CNCC provided the program director, Dave Allred, and classroom and office space. The town purchased a residential lot and funding for materials; and the school district provided high school students who wanted to learn.

The grant will provide funds for tools, recruiting, open houses with area counselors and vocational teachers, staff training, and the development of more certificates.

Currently, 12 of the 14 students enrolled in the program are Rangely High School students. Several seniors plan to enroll in the program full time next year.

Brian Skelton is one of the students who plans to earn his associate's degree at CNCC in construction technology, then transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree in construction management. He feels confident that he will be "ahead of the game" when he transfers.

Another senior from Rangely High School, Zach Green, said "if you want to go into construction, this program gives you a head start on everyone else."

Most of the program curriculum involves hands-on training and offers the rare opportunity for students to build a house from the ground up. Students learn all aspects of the construction trade, including planning, zoning, reading blueprints, framing, using power tools, pouring cement, installing windows, trimming, painting, and laying floors.

As the spring semester comes to a close and classes begin to wrap up for the year, the construction of the first house also is close to completion. A contract has been put on the house, and negotiations for the buyer nearly have been finalized. CNCC plans to continue this partnership and to build more houses in the future.

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