City commits to welding training facility

Staff reporter

It was a week of special Hillsboro City Council meetings and exciting announcements.

Following the announcement June 18 of a new hospital being built, the council met in another special session Friday to commit to the remodeling of the former AMPI building for a school to train welders.

Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke told the council that several business owners needed to hire welders but there didn't appear to be a sufficient welders' pool.

Butler Community College of El Dorado applied for a $100,000 grant with Kansas Department of Commerce to help pay for renovations to the former milk production building.

"There's some work that needs to be done to make the project eligible for the grant," Dalke said. In order for the project to fly, an additional $40,000 was needed.

She continued that there were sufficient funds in the city's capital improvement fund. In return, BCC would pay $6,000 per year to lease the space that was formerly renovated for Hillsboro Manufacturing.

Dalke said she had met with BCC and KDOC officials earlier Friday and had the impression that BCC would receive the grant if the city provided the funds.

Councilman Bob Watson made a motion to allocate up to $40,000 to the project, contingent on BCC receiving the grant; councilman Shelby Dirks seconded. The motion passed 3-0. Shane Marler was absent.

The program will be marketed to high school students as part of the school's curriculum and to adults who want to be trained or re-trained.

Students could earn college credits toward an associate of arts degree. BCC already has talked with Hillsboro High School students and there were five to eight students who were interested. The college plans to market the class to other schools and areas. Classes probably need to have 20-25 students to be feasible.

Architectural plans have been drawn regarding the renovation of the east side of the building.