Hayden vocational center continues donation drive

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The money has rolled in for the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center at Hayden High School, but it wasn't an easy process for center director Kevin Kleckler.

Letters to potential donors and perpetual grant writing has brought the center to within $230,000 of being paid off.

"I'd say that I think we've about turned every rock," Kleckler said about his quest to find funds for the center.

In a report to the Hayden School Board on Feb. 18, Kleckler said he recently applied for three major grants.

Those are a $160,000 request to the Gates Family Foundation, of the Gates Rubber Company; a $20,000 request to the Bonfils Stanton Foundation; and $10,000 to Williams Energy.

Hayden School Board member Kurt Frentress said the center has received donations so far - totaling about $1.3 million - because business owners know they will be able to benefit from the program.

"It's not only vocational educational opportunities for our students but also adult education," he said. "A lot of businesses in the valley have donated money to the center, and that's because it's going to be a facility where we're not only training students but also providing vocational opportunities."

The center has an agreement with Colorado Northwestern Community College to host classes at the center, generating revenue for the school district.

Kleckler said he runs the facility on an annual budget of $6,000 for supplies because the center generates money from selling cars students renovate and from student fees.

Kleckler regularly teaches welding certification classes to employees at local companies, but with the new facility available, Peabody Energy Corporation is planning to send 80 students for the training. Part of the money will go toward instruction fees, and part will go back to the center, Kleckler said.

"The main concern now is paying off the building and after we get done with that, we're pretty comfortable with the cash-flow potential and the opportunities for the students," Frentress said.

The district requested money from the Education Fund Board to pay off the remainder of the costs, but the request was not approved. Frentress said it was a setback, but the district would find a way to pay the bills.

"It would just be a lot easier. We're a small district, we always struggle with the budget," he said. "I'm optimistic we'll have some more people stepping forward to offer donations."

A portion of the money from memorial donations for John Fetcher, a ski area pioneer, water engineer and iconic Routt County resident described by Kleckler as a longtime supporter of the program, also will go to the center.

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