BHC breaks snow for new Welding & Skilled Trades Center in Kewanee

welding groundbreaking-2 (web)

Representatives from the city of Kewanee, Hein Construction and Black Hawk College broke snow instead of ground for the new Welding and Skilled Trades Center in downtown Kewanee.

With snow flying, Black Hawk College hosted a groundbreaking ceremony March 5 for the new Welding and Skilled Trades Center in downtown Kewanee.

The city of Kewanee donated the land to Black Hawk College. The 15,000-square-foot facility will be located next to the college’s Community Education Center, 404 E. Third St.

The welding program currently is located at the East Campus five miles south of Kewanee.

“Over the past several years, our welding enrollments have grown substantially, and we basically have completely outgrown our current facility,” said Chanda Dowell, vice president for East Campus.

welding groundbreaking - Emerick, Washburn & Dowell (web)

Trustee David Emerick and Chanda Dowell, vice president for East Campus, listen as welding instructor Mark Washburn speaks at the March 5 groundbreaking ceremony.

The new one-story building will have three labs (including a virtual welding lab), two classrooms and office space. Construction will begin later this month. Anticipated completion is December 2014.

“There are many people in this area who do not have the means to travel to obtain these skills, locking them  in the lower-paying job market,” said Kewanee mayor Bruce Tossell.

“An available skilled workforce makes a community a more desirable place for business to develop,” he said.

“Thank you Black Hawk College for recognizing the need and providing a solution that will benefit many,” Tossell added.

Mark Washburn has taught welding at Black Hawk College for more than eight years.

“I’m just so excited. I’m inspired by all the people I get to work around,” Washburn said.

“We’re going to teach to the highest technology. We’re going to teach to the industry in this area. When they leave our school, they’ll be ready to go out there wherever they need a welder,” he said.

The $4 million project will be paid for with 2012 bond funds.

Media coverage:

welding groundbreaking-6 (web)




Last updated 3/6/2014