Board approves building purchase

Christy Howell-Hoots - [email protected]

Purchase of the old Honda Dealership building was approved during a special Mason County Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

The purchase of the building, which is located on Tucker Drive, is pending approval by the Kentucky Department of Education.

The building will be used to house the Area Technology Center, which is currently located on Kenton Station Drive, according to Mason County Schools Superintendent Rick Ross.

“The Mason County Area Technology Center would be relocated from the outdated current circa 1966 building into this far newer structure upon renovation,” Ross said. “We wish to extend our appreciation to the People’s Bank of Kentucky for agreeing to sell this building to us a greatly reduced price.”

According to Ross, the building is valued at $1.5 million, but the school district is purchasing the building for $850,000.

Ross said that by approving the purchase, the cost of renovations and moving everything into the new building will most likely be less than it would cost to renovate the current structure.

Renovations of the current ATC building, which would include repairs on the roof, HVAC system, equipment and other renovations needed would cost around $4 million. However, purchasing and renovating the new building is expected to cost closer to $3.2 million to $3.3 million, according to Ross.

“Taxpayers of Mason County will be pleased to learn the acquisition and renovation of this building will cost about the same, if not less, than the planned repair of the buildings currently utilized by our ATC building.”

Ross said moving the ATC was not always planned.

“We were going to renovate the current building, but about three weeks ago, I was driving around and saw the building. I knew it was for sale, but I hadn’t thought much about it. I stopped and looked around and thought it was perfect. Before this building, there wasn’t really a place that would have worked for us,” Ross said. “We’re blessed this building became available at such an opportune time.”

Ross said he is unsure of when the new building will be ready for the move, but he is hoping it will be complete by Christmas of 2019 or 2020.

The currently facility will be sold once the move is complete.

“The timing could not better as we were a recipient of the New Skills for Youth Planning grant,” Ross said. “Working with our partner schools in Augusta, Bracken and Robertson Counties, we will be developing an academy model, where students spend larger portions of their day at the center. They will begin to receive core instruction in English and math on site, geared toward their area of study.”

Board Chairman Curtis Rosser expressed his enthusiasm for having the new building.

“There is a tremendous amount of space in there,” he said. “I believe it has an upstairs. It will be better for our kids.”

Ross said the current ATC principal and representatives from the KDE have seen the building and are pleased with the possibilities.

Ty Burkhart, who teaches electricity at the ATC, said he was pleased to hear of the possible new location.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “It’s what we need. It will be more modern and up with the times. We’ll have new equipment that will allow us to train students. We’ll be able to bring business into the area and show them we have a trained workforce.”

Burkhart said he has faced issues with training students due to the outdated equipment and building.

“It’s an older facility,” he said. “The technology is older. And, safety is the main concern; the safety for all of our students.”

The ATC building serves students from Mason County, Robertson County, Bracken County and Augusta Independent Schools.

RCS Superintendent Sanford Holbrook said he was also excited about the possibility of a new ATC building.

“My hats are off to the Mason County Board of Education and to Superintendent Rick Ross for being able to make this happen,” Holbrook said. “It will be great asset for all of the students. The board members are doing not only what’s right for their students, but for all of the kids in the region. Having this new building will help us to be able to train our kids for their futures.”

AIS Superintendent Lisa McCane offered similar sentiments.

“The new ATC facility will typify that of a model career academy and facilitate technical career pathways and programming improvements currently underway,” she said. “Our students will be the technical education beneficiaries thanks to the forward thinking of (Ross) and the Mason County Board of Education.”

Christy Howell-Hoots

[email protected]