The new Perry High School Building Trades Program is off and running, with PHS students and teachers gathering at the construction site Friday morning near 12th Street and Otley Avenue.
Preliminaries began in June when the building-trades students took up laser levels and GPS receivers, magnetic locators and shovels to learn the basics of surveying from a crew from Bolton and Menk Inc., the city’s engineering consultant.
Instruction continued last week when Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson and Perry Community and Economic Development Director Mike Fastenau visited the class at PHS in order to discuss the legal processes involved in planning and platting a property.
“We wanted the students to be able to participate in the surveying process and then the planning and zoning and then the city council,” Peterson told the Perry City Council last week prior to the council’s approval of the project.
“This didn’t just come up overnight,” said Perry City Council member Dr. Randy McCaulley. “This project’s been discussed for probably two or three years. It’s really been an interest of the high school to get this going along with DMACC and other people.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the construction class’ work on the six lots lying along the north side of Otley Avenue between 10th and 12th streets.
“Frankly, we need a new crop of construction people,” said Perry City Council member Barb Wolling.
“All these trades are needed,” said Perry Mayor John Andorf, “and we have a good person at the high school to coordinate the program”
PHS Industrial Technology Instructor Chad Morman plans to teach five to seven seniors and five to seven juniors in each class, with juniors able to take the course again as seniors, thus passing on experience to the younger students with each succeeding year.
The DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy will also offer college credit for the classes, creating an additional benefit. In addition, DMACC is providing the construction tools for the program.
Morman led a similar and very successful program at Greene County High School for five years. He said local suppliers and construction firms are supporting for the PHS program, and adding seven new homes to Perry’s housing stock over the next seven years will be a boon to the local housing market.
With the prospect of a planned unit development on 28th Street between Willis Avenue and McKinley Street and the emergence of a partnership between local contractors, local bankers and the Perry Economic Development Inc. in building larger, higher-dollar speculative houses in Perry, the PHS student-built houses should find a ready market.