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Feds award $41.3 million Job Corps bid to Idaho firm

Jul 3, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday awarded the bid for the Wind River Job Corps Center to Rafter H Construction LLC of Rexburg, Idaho.

Rafter was identified last month as the apparent low bidder for the $41.3 million project, which is set to be completed by 2015.

"That's a lot of money that will start flowing through this community," said Sandy Barton, executive director of the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Barton expects a pre-construction meeting to be scheduled sometime this month, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony at the Airport Road site "right after that."

"We're excited," she said. "We thought we'd never see this day come."

The Job Corps, which will provide academic assistance and career and technical training to about 300 students ages 16-24, initially was slated to be built by 2011. City representatives say they have been working on the project since 2006, and Barton said her agency began the process of requesting a Job Corps in 2004.

"Fremont County BOCES coordinated the application, (and) we mailed that in September of 2006 after nearly two years of work," Barton said Wednesday. "This is beyond our wildest dreams ... to think that application mailed that day (became) a $41.3 million contract."

She credited everyone who has worked on the project so far, including the City of Riverton as well as state legislators and U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) in particular.

"This is a huge deal," Barton said. "It's been a long journey."

In a Tuesday press release, Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness thanked the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, the Fremont County Commission and "numerous energy partners" who also helped bring the center to the town.

"We expect (the Job Corps) will dramatically change the economic climate in Riverton as well as the lives of countless young people (who) will gain the skills and abilities to gain employment and careers," Warpness said. "We also expect that it will help fill a need for skilled workers for the energy industry and health care industry in Wyoming and the region."

The WRJCC will have an energy industry focus, but coursework also will be available in construction, heavy equipment and diesel mechanics, electrical and facilities maintenance, office administration, medical office and allied health work, and welding.

"The skills and abilities that the students will gain at Wind River Job Corps Center will translate into stable careers and help transition the young adults into productive members of the workforce and community," Warpness said, adding that 100 people also will be employed at the center once it opens. "This will be a great project for our community, and we collectively are excited to see construction commence."

Plans for the center include seven buildings totaling about 162,000 gross square feet. Facilities include a welcome center; administrative, wellness and student service buildings; an educational and vocational building; a cafeteria and warehouse building; a recreation center; and two, two-story dormitories -- one for men and one for women. During previous meetings designers talked about plans for a family dorm and child care facility in the future.

Work also will include major site improvements to provide for roads, parking, drainage and connection to utility lines, according to the city. Warpness said Riverton used a Wyoming Business Council grant to install water and sewer infrastructure at the site, and officials are planning improvements from U.S. Highway 26 to the center entrance at 4200 Airport Road.

Rafter H representatives said they would release a press release about the project once they have executed a final contract with the DOL.

"We would love to talk after that," project manager Bryan Sargent said in an e-mail.

Barton said she has been in touch with Sargent this week.

"I just received an e-mail back from (him)," Barton said. "(I was) welcoming him to our community, and (saying) if we can be of any assistance in any way that we'd gladly help out."

The WRJCC will be the first Job Corps facility in Wyoming -- the only state in the nation currently without a Job Corps.

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