EL RENO — The winds of change didn't blow gently for Canadian Valley Technology Center's El Reno campus on May 31.
That day's deadly tornado and high winds ripped through the campus, inflicting heavy damage on most of the buildings. Then the rain fell, leaving some offices and classrooms sitting in inches of water.
But less than three months later, classes have resumed in earnest, thanks to space in nearby Yukon at a vacant car dealership and a church. The quarters might be a little cramped, but students, teachers and administrators are making do, said Bill Kramer, Canadian Valley spokesman.
As the CareerTech looks to rebuild, classes also returned to the smallest sliver of campus housing its business and industry services program, which provides training for local businesses. It's now the only part of the El Reno campus that is usable.
“The rest of campus is being bulldozed and rebuilding could take up to two years,” Kramer said. “We did manage to save the red-iron skeleton on the main building.”
The rebuilding, estimated to cost $30 million to $35 million, is expected to consolidate nine damaged buildings into one main building. Safe rooms also will be incorporated into the design. Kramer said the CareerTech is still in negotiations with its insurance company on a settlement and may receive some funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We'd just like to replace the square footage we had,” Kramer said.
Bill Hulsey, director of business and industry services, said renovations and refurbishing of his building on the west side of campus are close to completion. Classes resumed there at the end of August after being at various sites in the area since May's storm.
“It was our home — then it wasn't for three months — and now it's our home again,” Hulsey said. “We've had to farm a lot of training about to different locations. We're gathering those back up and able to offer training again at that building.”
Hulsey said being back on campus also helps because it's closer to many of the companies using training services, such as Halliburton Co., Schlumberger Ltd., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Nomac Drilling, that have operations in Canadian County.
Canadian Valley's wind technician training program resumed two weeks after the May 31 storm. Kramer said the four-week program provides training for students looking for jobs in the growing wind industry. Students getting certification can get starting wages of between $16 and $18 per hour. The program has a placement rate of more than 90 percent.
“Wind farms in Oklahoma really depend on our students and program like ours,” Kramer said. “If you want a job, you can get a job. These guys are ready to go to work on the first day.”
In the meantime, about 800 students in 17 full-time programs are taking classes at the former John Holt Chevrolet dealership on Garth Brooks Boulevard in Yukon. . The Church of Christ South Yukon donated space for the Early Care and Education program, which includes a three-star day care as a training lab.
It was our home — then it wasn't for three months — and now it's our home again. We've had to farm a lot of training about to different locations. We're gathering those back up and able to offer training again at that building.”
Director of business and industry services