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Over the course of two years, Big Sandy Community and Technical College trade students have been gaining valuable hands-on training, not in the classroom, but by constructing one of Cross Creek’s newest homes.

BSCTC trade students, over the course of two years, have been constructing a home project located in the Cross Creek residential area of Paintsville. According to Big Sandy Director of Safety and Security Randy Haney, the project allows students to gain valuable hands-on training which will help each group that participates in the construction process in their respective field. He said Eastern Kentucky needs those skilled workers.

The three bedroom, 1,900 square foot, two-and-a-half bath home, like others before it, stems from what Haney said was the Mayo Construction Project, which began in 1970. According to him, the project came to fruition when some local business leaders  and the owner of a bank in the area got together in order to start the first project.

“Over the years, we’ve built 17 homes, most of which have been here in the Cross Creek area,” Haney said.The biggest part of the program, according to Haney, is for these students to come out and take a set of blueprints where they learn how to calculate materials, how to lay out and all the other things that go into the home building preparation process.

Haney said that for this project specifically, Cross Creek homes have to meet certain specs in order to be build, something he added, give the students an idea on how to deal with more difficult or specific projects, which will in turn help their experience level as they pursue their career.

“When students come in, most of them they don’t know anything about construction,” Haney said. “They kind of feel like that’s what they want to go into but their knowledge still needs work.”

Haney said that the program tries to best prepare its students prior to them going out in the field to get that hands-on experience. According to Haney, students have to learn about the block work, laying footers, building walls, as well as all the other aspects before even getting to work on the home.

According to Haney, three different groups of students have been working on the home since its construction began. The Construction Technology program, according to Haney, are the individuals who came out and dug the footer, laid the block and actually did all the framing, floors, woodwork and roofing.

“Honestly, they have done a little bit of everything,” Haney said. “And really, all the students actually get to be part of this. So if you signup for the Construction Technology program, that’s what you’d be doing ... they actually learn hands-on how to build, construct, to lay out and how to install.”

Haney added that those tasks are only some of the things the students get do while being a part of this project. Not only does the Construction Technology program work on the home construction, as the Electrical program will come out in order to handle the electrical side of things regarding the construction. The HVAC program, he said, also will work on the project.

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Over the course of the project, the students involved also get the experience of running heavy equipment, as BSCTC excavated the land prior to beginning construction. He said the students get a crash course before actually getting to operate any of the heavy equipment.

Haney said that one problem the college is having is finding property for its home constructions here in Eastern Kentucky. According to Haney, the college will reach out and purchase a piece of property, usually every two to three years in order to keep the program going. The biggest issue he said, is the lack of flat land on the market, which leaves BSCTC having to use hillsides that need work done in order to begin its newest project.

Construction in the area is kind of in a downturn due to the way the economy currently is , according to Haney, but there are people who interested in buying, so he said there is a market for individuals who are willing build, despite not many builders taking jobs throughout the area. He added that theres is a need for trade personnel and craftsmen in Eastern Kentucky and that’s why projects such as these home constructions are great for students who may be interested.

Haney said the program tries to best prepare its students as best as possible, prior to going out in the field to get that hands-on experience. According to him, students have to learn about the block work, laying footers, building walls, as well as all the other aspects before even getting to work on the home.

The different types of education is one of the best aspects of BSCTC, according to Haney. With BSCTC’s technical education, its students get to participate in hands-on learning, something he said is critical when dealing in trades such as carpentry.

“They get to learn how to use the tools and all that,” Haney said. “And you get to watch them respond to that better because at the end of the day, people learn differently. Some learn from a book and that’s great, but some learn hands-on and being able to use that skill while practicing, they’re actually allowed to go out and be able to do it so they gain some confidence.”

The project, according to Haney, is expected to be completed by early spring 2021. After its construction, the home and property in which it sits will be sold. In past years, Haney said the college would auction off the home, which he added that it still has the ability to do so, but a number of people have already inquired about the home and property.

“We got the route of putting it up for auction and we still have the ability to do so,” Haney said. “Sometimes the projects can even go into a realtors hands and then sometimes, we can just take int and sell it straight out.

“We’ve had so many people already reach out and want to buy this piece of property. We’ve probably had 20 or 30 people call,” he added.

Once the project is complete and the home and property is sold, the money acquired will go back into the Mayo Construction budget which will help the program purchase a new piece of property to begin planning the next home construction project.

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