Last updated: January 16. 2014 8:42PM - 999 Views
WILLIAM LANEY wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — The $52.8 million addition and renovation project “is making its way up the chain,” Superintendent Judy Wells says, but she is most enthusiastic right now about the fact she can see renderings of the proposed improvement to the Apollo Career Center in color.

“It is exciting to see the project start to now come to life,” Wells said. “Before this, everything we look at was black-and-white little sheets of paper and dimensional drawings and it is really to neat to see the birth of it coming to life. It is really neat to star being able to look at colors and starting to look at renderings so we can really see what this campus is going to look like.”

Wells said the school is currently waiting for a signature from Ohio Facilities Construction Commission Executive Director Richard Hickman on the proposal so they can move forward with the project. The OSFC is picking up 67 percent of the project, which amounts to $23 million toward the $34.64 million in new construction. The OSFC did not cover $18 million in costs associated with improvements at the school.

Voters in 11 school districts passed property levies to raise approximately $30 million for high school career technical and adult education center.

Since passage of the levy, Apollo Career Center board members contracted with Minster-based Garmann-Miller & Associates to serve as the architectural and engineering firm, and with Lima-based Touchstone Consulting Planning & Management to serve as the construction manager for the project. The Minster company also recently secured work at the Allen County Courthouse.

The project calls for the school to be expanded with two additions totaling 82,000 square feet. It also will address technology and infrastructure issues at the 37-year-old building.

Wells is working on plans to coordinate each of the stages of construction with phases to move students and class offerings.

“Right now, we have a schematic design of the project and in February we will be entering the design and development stage, we will have the final drawings done in March or April as part of the last stage before we break ground,” said Wells, who hopes the construction phase starts June 1, after the high school students are done for the year. “We are heading to the second phase of the drawings. Right now, we have renderings of what the front of the building will look like from the road and it is real pretty, real neat and it has everybody excited.”

The first phase of construction is to begin on the back of the building.

While high school students will be on summer break when construction begins, Wells still has to find places for adult education daytime programs and classrooms for high school students when they return at the end of summer.

“So the LPN, STNA and medical programming will have to be temporarily located to another area,” Wells said. “We have been looking at some downtown buildings that we may be able to lease or rent, we have been reaching out to the hospitals to see if they have some space if we could lease for awhile. The whole phasing, everything that needs to fall into place, is contingent on us finding a place to put our adult education programs and not lose students, to still give those great opportunities to the adults who need them so much.”

She said they visited some buildings in downtown Lima, but they would be open to space available within the immediate area since they service students from school districts in Allen, Auglaize, Hardin and Putnam counties.

Wells said she also is balancing the need to improve the campus while maintaining the educational objectives of the joint vocational school.

“I have two priorities,” Wells said, “make sure that my adult learners stay happy, learn, get a great job and get jump start on their careers and to also make sure my high school students get the education that are used to getting and they have come to deserve.”

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