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Renovation plan approved
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The Southwest Wisconsin Technical College District Board approved a renovation plan for the college’s Student Activities Center during a meeting Thursday, Sept. 20.
The SWTC Student Senate approved 100 percent funding from the student activities fund for the project in the 2012 fiscal year by a unanimous vote.
The estimate for the project is approximately $450,000, Vice President for Adminstrative Services Caleb White told the board.
The senate has approximately $250,000 in reserves to contribute to the project this year, and will pay the remaining $200,000 over four years at $50,000 a year.
The new Student Activities Center will be located in Room 415, the former Automotive Technician Lab.
The board also approved submitting the project to the Wisconsin Technical College System Board for approval.
In other action, the board:
• approved a bid for the Student Services renovation project. Renovating student services will improve student registration, student recruitment, financial aid and cashier functions.
Midwest Builders, Inc. of Fennimore was the lone bidder for the project at $460,822. Midwest Builders, Inc., a family owned and managed commercial construction company, was established Jan. 1, 1992.
“We need to look into why more people aren’t bidding,” board president James Kohlenberg said. “There’s something going on here.”
“Normally, our construction jobs, we do get a fair amount of bids,” White said.
The board was to consider a bid for the Outdoor Dining Terrace project, but no bids were received.
“From talking with the potential bidders, the time frame was a little too tight,” White said. “We are recommending we go back out in the spring.”
• approved a bid for a Robotic Trainer System. Two systems will be purchased for use in the Electromechanical Technology program.
Rixan Associates of Dayton, Ohio, was the lone bidder at $72,614. Rixan Associates, established in 1959, provides robots, turn-key automation, engineering services, components, software and educational training systems.
“That one we kind of expect that,” White said of the low number of bids.
The Electromechanical Technology program will double in size next year, as the college was a recipient of a Wisconsin Covenant Foundation’s Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grant.
Building Automation Products, Inc., Lactalis American Group, Meister Dairy, Miniature Precision Components, Inc., Rockwell Automation and Spectrum Brands will partner with Southwest Tech on the $642,661 grant, which will allow the college to purchase equipment and fund instructors to train students as electromechanical technicians.
“Electromechanical Technicians are at an all time shortage nationwide, said Electromechanical Technician/ Electrical Apprenticeship Instructor Jason Koble. “In our district alone we had over 50 job offers for 16 graduates last year and my hope is others seeing the investment made through the Covenant Grants will open eyes of the needs for these technicians.
“Our five-year reports, generated by past graduates, shows a median salary of $27 per hour and that is a solid living. Our career field is just as viable for females as it is for males, in most cases females make  better technicians. This is a career that involves math, motor skills and the ability to communicate, so it is not a career made for all.”
• approved the hiring of Craig Woodhouse as a Manufacturing Skills Standards Certification Consortium Coordinator, a limited-term employment position.
Woodhouse was one of six applicants who applied for the position and was one of four interviewed. He is currently an employee of Rockwell Automation.
Friend of the College
As the meeting began, the board approved  recognizing former Grant County Sheriff Keith Govier as an honorary “Friend of the College.”
Govier, who is the first recipient of the award, was on hand to receive the honor.
“I appreciate that so much,” Govier said. “I do want to say over the years I’ve had the instructors come into the jail and that has meant so much.”