New Area Technology Center could have massive impact locally

Project has potential to be massive economic driver for Russell County and beyond.

Russell County Schools Superintendent Michael Ford and Project Superintendent Larry McGowan are full of optimism about what lies ahead as work continues on the new Lake Cumberland Area Technology Center on the Russell County High School campus.

While classes in the new, state-of-the-art building are about a year away, Ford said there’s no doubt the center has the potential to be a major asset for workforce development and business recruitment in Russell County.

“I think this is going to be an economic regional driver,” Ford said. “I said regional because this isn’t just for Russell County and we can see this is going to have a far-reaching impact.”

Ford said with trades in such high demand in the workforce, the facility will have a major impact in training the local workforce for a variety of jobs, whether that be students in the Russell County Schools or through a partnership with Somerset Community College.

“We just know it’s not only going to be able to keep businesses here, but we believe this will attract new businesses to our community,” Ford said.

Construction is ongoing at the new Lake Cumberland Area Technology Center. Photo by Zac Oakes/Laker Country

The facility will house a variety of classes that will encompass a wide array of trades and other in-demand fields. These include health sciences, automotive, industrial maintenance, welding, computer information systems, electricity, and carpentry.

With classrooms, work spaces, and office space throughout the building, the 55,000 square foot facility will be a tremendous upgrade from the current facilities. New welding stations, like the ones pictured below, are just some of the many spaces that will be utilized in the new facility.

Students at the new technology center will have the opportunity to take welding classes. Photo by Zac Oakes/Laker Country

The facility also features large student collaboration spaces like the one that can be seen by clicking on the link below, which will provide a unique learning environment for students while also providing a space that could be used for meetings, tours, etc. This was an area Ford often referred to as being unique and innovative.

Student Space

One of the major goals of classes at the facility will be to prepare students for the workforce and for the various career fields they are pursuing. Part of that means providing students with environments that mimic a real-life work setting. For example, health science students will participate in classes that will mirror a hospital environment.

“This will be just like you went and walked into Russell County Hospital,” McGowan said. “That’s what it is set out to mimic.”

Not only will the facility be an asset for students in the Russell County School District, but classes will be open to adults in the evening with partnerships through other education institutions like Somerset Community College.

McGowan, who has been heavily involved in most major construction/renovation projects involving the school district over the last several years, said he hopes to have the building finished by April 2021, which would align with Ford’s vision of beginning to have classes in the facility to open the 2020-2021 school year.

Ford had a lot of praise for McGowan’s work on the project, noting that his ability to adapt to changing situations, think outside the box, and be innovative and creative while on the job has given him a lot of relief knowing that the building project is under the supervision of McGowan.

Not only that, but Ford had a lot of praise for the cleanliness and attention to detail that McGowan has shown during the entirety of the construction of the facility.

Project Superintendent Larry McGowan, left, and Russell County Schools Superintendent Michael Ford discuss the ongoing Lake Cumberland Area Technology Center project.

And for McGowan’s part, he said the group of contractors that are working on the facility are some of the best he has worked with in his many years of working in construction.

“This project has been really unique with the quality of workers that we have had on this project,” McGowan said. “We’ve got a group of guys here that each one of them is top-of-the-line as far as the people I’ve worked with for the last 40 years. This is a group of guys that don’t just come to you with problems, they come to you with ideas and solutions.”

Keith Kerns is one of the individuals working on the project. He said that construction on the project has been going really well so far, and it’s been a pleasure being part of the construction of the facility.

“This has been a super group of guys to work with,” Kerns said. “Larry does a great job coordinating everything with all the people working and is always on top of things. Everything has just gone really well and the school has been really good to work with on this.”

Construction work is ongoing at the Lake Cumberland Area Technology Center. Click the link for a short clip. Construction Work

As construction on the project continues and completion nears, Ford said he’s extremely optimistic about what’s ahead.

“This is going to be a great thing for this entire region,” he said.

Russell County Schools Superintendent Michael Ford walks up the steps at the construction site of the new Area Technology Center. Photo by Zac Oakes/Laker Country
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Zac Oakes is the News Director and Digital Content Contributor for LakerCountry.com and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.