Oxford Hills Technical School’s plumbing, electrical classroom to be completed next spring

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NORWAY — By this time next year, Oxford Hills Technical School students in the plumbing technology and electrical training programs will start classes in a simulated classroom setting where they will get hands-on experience learning their future trade.

OHTS’s electrical program was launched at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year, as a partnership with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 567 in Lewiston. For instruction, students had to commute to the union’s work site two days a week. Three students participated in its first year, and there are currently eight enrolled for the coming year.

Two views of Oxford Hills Technical School’s plumbing and electrical classroom, which will be built on the southern end of Oxford Hills Comprehensive School’s campus. Supplied photo

The project is being funded with a $2.1 million dollar grant from the state of Maine, as part of its Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. The grant was announced by Governor Janet Mills last December and received federal approval in March. Voters in Oxford Hills sending towns and Buckfield overwhelmingly approved it during state elections in June.

The bidding process required that interested parties had to go through a prequalification application administered by Harriman Architecture and Design. Four businesses successfully applied, with the winning $1.85 million bid submitted by Benchmark  Construction of Westbrook. Harriman’s services, permitting, legal contracts and construction liability will be covered by the balance of the grant.

Among the criteria bidders had to meet included committing to a relatively fast turnaround – the grant stipulates that all work must be completed and monies expended by July of next year.

The OHTS classroom building will be two-stories with about 4,000 square feet of interior space. Supplied photo

According to OHTS Director Randy Crockett, the other bidders were Great Falls Construction out of Gorham, Optimum Construction of South Portland and Blane Casey Contractors from Augusta.

“We have a letter of intent with Benchmark,” Crockett told the Advertiser Democrat Tuesday morning. “And the contract should be signed this week.”

Harriman was hired to design and oversee the project, acting as general contractor for the site work and building systems and as clerk of the works as it progresses.

“We anticipate that the building will be finished by March,” Crockett said. “A bit of exterior work will be done later in the spring. It will be ready for use by students at the start of the 2024-25 academic year.”

Once acceptance of the $2.1 million grant was approved by voters, Maine Vocational Region 11 and Maine School Administrative District 17 had to negotiate terms to locate the building site on the grounds of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. The school district owns the property, but the tech school will own the building.

The longstanding agreement in place for OHTS to use the high school allows for a 60/40 split between the two entities for maintenance, upkeep and improvements. With the new building, MVR11 will be responsible for all utilities and installation expenses. SAD 17 will be responsible for providing seasonal maintenance, services and communications and networking systems.

Oxford Hills Tech School’s new plumbing and electrical classroom, a two-story residential style house, will be built at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, to the left of where OHTS Building Construction and Technology students build a modular home each year. Supplied photo

It will be located on the south side of the OHCHS campus, which is in Norway, near a pad that has been dedicated to an annual modular home construction project for OHTS’ Building Construction and Technology Program.

That program is a partnership between the school, Turnkey Homes of Oxford and Hammond Lumber. Crockett confirmed the modular home project will continue this year.

All permitting was done through the town of Norway and has been approved by its planning board.

“We are anxious to get started on construction,” Crockett said. “The planning always seems to take forever.”

 

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