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PROFILE: Building for the future

GETAWAY — Collins Career Center is building for the future — literally.

The local career and technical school is in the process of planning a 11,000 square feet addition to its Getaway location.

The $22 million project, which is in its early stages, will be funded for the most part from the state. The rest of the money will come from a capital improvement property tax levy that is up for renewal in May.

The levy was not on the ballot last year and is not currently being collected. Before last year it had been in effect since 1994, Chris Kline, Lawrence County Deputy Auditor said.

The half-mil levy costs a homeowner with a $100,000 house $15.31 each year, Kline said.

“We’re hoping that the county will continue to support this school as they have in the past,” Steve Dodgion, superintendent of the school, said. “We will continue to offer a high level of career programming for the citizens of this county.”

The career center was established in 1976 as a secondary career technical education institution. The center serves the seven school districts in the county as well as St. Joseph Catholic School and adult students.

The adult education portion of Collins currently offers 22 programs in the fields of computer technology, health, protective services and trade and industry.

At the high school level, the school offers 21 career technical programs and provides students with several pathways to employment or post-secondary education.

High school programs include academies in the areas of health, information technology, public safety, education and training, environmental and agricultural, human services, construction technology and transportation systems. Satellite programs include business management, early childhood care, interactive media, Project Lead the Way and a teacher academy.

The proposed addition will be to accommodate the increase in enrollment that the school has seen over the past few years, Dodgion said.

“Well, our enrollment has increased steadily over the past six years,” he said.

The center serves about 1,000 high school students in the area and between 5,000 and 10,000 adult students each year.

“The enrollment is the highest has been in at least the past 15 years,” Dodgion said, adding that he expects the enrollment to increase further in the future.

Fanning Howey, the same architectural firm that were hired for the renovation/construction project of Ironton High School, has been hired for this project as well.

“They’ve done such a fantastic job that we wanted to take advantage of that,” Dodgion said.

The company, which is based in Columbus, has also worked on projects in Vinton County and a renovation project in the Wyoming School District in Cincinnati.

The center is in the process of interviewing commissioning agents for the project. After that, the next step will be to determine what the building will look like. Besides the addition, the entire school will be renovated as well, Dodgion said.

He estimates that the project is still about a year away from being started.

“There’s a lot of planning that goes into this before you start,” he said. u