Reconstruction of the Pike-Lincoln Technical Center’s (PLTC) main building in Eolia started recently, to the relief of many area residents and PLTC students.
Tech center students have been using the old middle school building on the Clopton High School campus ever since the main center building burned to the ground on Dec. 2, 2011. They will continue to do so until the new building is complete, hopefully by March 2015, according to center Director Martin Hanley.
“We’re excited beyond belief,” Hanley said. “There were people who said ‘you’ll never get a new building.’
“We’ve already started making plans for the transition. My goal is to get next year’s classes into the new building for at least some part of the year.”
Although the cause of the fire was never determined, foul play was ruled out by investigating authorities. Following the blaze, fire officials said it could have been electrical.
Undeterred, a citizens group and Pike County R-III (Clopton) Schools officials began immediately working on a plan to rebuild the main building for nursing, computer and technology classes. The adjacent building used for automotive repair students was not damaged.
The project hit a snag in 2013 when $1 million in state funding was deferred by Gov. Jay Nixon. However, state legislator Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford) and R-III Superintendent Mark Harvey lobbied to get the money reinstated and were successful.
The school board selected LayneCo Construction Services, of O’Fallon, in April for the rebuilding when the firm submitted a low bid of just under $3.5 million. The district has $5.2 million budgeted for the project, with money left for contingencies and soft costs, according to Harvey.
Last week, subcontractor Howell and Sons Excavating, of Defiance, started moving dirt for the new 21,000 square-foot building.
The project includes a 6,200 square-foot addition to the automotive building. A second phase of construction will include a covered walkway between the two buildings and commercial kitchen equipment that will cost almost $200,000.