Routt County resident Erica Olson practices her welding Thursday evening during a class at the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center in Hayden. The new facility recently was awarded a $75,000 grant from the Gates Family Foundation.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County resident Erica Olson practices her welding Thursday evening during a class at the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center in Hayden. The new facility recently was awarded a $75,000 grant from the Gates Family Foundation.

Race on to pay off tech center

Programs, grants help fund new vocational facility in Hayden

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Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center Director Kevin Kleckler, right, inspects a weld done Thursday by Routt County resident Billy East, who is taking a welding class at the center in Hayden through Colorado Northwestern Community College.

The debt on the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center is dwindling in jumps as grants come tumbling in. The most recent grant, $75,000 from the Gates Family Foundation, reduced the outstanding loan for the Hayden School District to $233,000.

With the loan starting to come due - some of the payments could be delayed - at the end of June and four outstanding grants, center director Kevin Kleckler is optimistic the bills will be paid on time.

"Oh yeah, we're going to make it, buddy," Kleckler said with a laugh. "I've got to be optimistic, don't I?"

Kleckler said there are four other grants pending, and he plans to hold sales and use adult welding classes to bring in additional revenue for the program.

In the coming weeks, he will hold welding certification courses for 80 employees of Peabody Energy during a 10-week course. From that, the district will get $140,000. About $24,000 will go toward program materials and costs, while the district will keep the remainder to help pay for the building. Kleckler, teaching after school hours, also will be paid for his instructions in addition to the district's proceeds.

If the funds don't flow in as fast as the bank demands, Hayden School Board member Kurt Frentress said, the district will have to find more creative ways to come up with the funds.

"We'll work with grants, and the budget's tight, but we'll do what we can to come up with money to pay the loan back. A lot of it depends on how much money we'll get from the state," he said. "It's pretty tight for everybody right now, and everybody's a little nervous about what's going to come down from the state."

The students enrolled in Kleckler's classes also will be doing their part to raise money for the program, although most of the proceeds from the sale of their projects will go toward material cost, Kleckler said.

In the coming months, the center will hold a sale on metal benches, for about $300 each, and car trailers. The program also will be selling off two Chevy trucks and a couple of SUVs refinished in the program. One, a 1957 Chevy pickup, was completely overhauled and painted Corvette yellow, Kleckler said.

"All of our projects, we just want to get the cost of the materials plus people's contributions to the program, what they feel is appropriate," he said.

And if those donations, along with money from the welding courses, helps the program, Kleckler said he'll do as much as he can.

"If we can make some extra money for the program to pay off the facility, let's try to do that," he said.

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