Pike-Lincoln Technical Center making a comeback

The original building pre-demolition, after a Dec. 2011 fire destroyed its interior.

Plans to rebuild Pike-Lincoln Technical Center are getting a huge boost.

The state has released a million dollars for the project. Governor Jay Nixon TMs original veto of the funding was overridden by lawmakers in September, but the governor withheld the money while a determination was made if the funds could legally be used for the project.

State Representative Jim Hansen said a large bi-partisan effort helped secure the money.

A fire in December 2011 destroyed the original administration and classroom building on the school TMs Eolia campus. The diesel and automotive technology building was spared.

Since then, students and staff have worked in smaller classrooms on the nearby Clopton School campus. The transition wasn't easy, but Director Martin Hanley said they had no choice.

"We were lucky in that this facility was here. Without this facility, I don't know what the students would have done," Hanley said.

"I think the toughest thing for the instructors was the fact that they had zero materials," Mark Harvey, the Clopton Schools superintendent said.

Computer networking instructor Dennis Hale says he spent several weeks after the fire searching for materials around his home to use in the classroom.

"Everything was a loss," Hale said.

"We had a lot of the area sending schools as well as other tech centers and community colleges loan supplies to us," Harvey said.

The hardest hit were students in the welding program who now work in spaces with minimal equipment.

"It doesn't meet the needs of that program, by any stretch of the imagination," Hanley said.

The district has design plans for a new facility, but until now it's been unable to cover the entire construction cost.

The state's one million dollar gift is the final piece of the costly puzzle, only partially covered by the district insurance.

"We're going to be in the $5 million range. That's our estimate," Harvey said.

The new building will be built on the former site next to a secondary building on campus.

"I'm really excited to be in a new facility and to get it arranged initially the way we want, so instead of taking an old facility and adapting to our use, we'll be able to start off with a fresh slate and have it just the way we want it. So it's very exciting," Hale said.

Seven high schools from Pike and Lincoln counties send students to the facility.