Superb, wonderful, fabulous.
Three adjectives used on Monday, Feb. 19, to describe the newly completed Vo-Tech facility at Jay Public Schools.
Members of the public had a chance to explore the facility, look at new equipment and eat some chili and desserts, during an open house hosted by members of the Jay FFA.
The event was part of this week's National FFA week activities.
The facility was financed by district officials using funds obtained after a $2.2 million bond issue was approved by voters in November 2015.
A total of 554 of the 804 who voted in the special election approved the issue. During the same election separate bond issues were also passed for safety and energy upgrades, as well as improvements for the district's transportation program.
For Dearl "Doc" Cunningham, former FFA Advisor, seeing the completed structure was affirming.
"I think it's great," Cunningham said. "We spent all those years trying to get the job [bond issue] done."
Cunningham said it took three tries to convince voters to approve the bond. In the first two elections the agricultural/technology issue was linked to other bond requests.
In the 2015 election, the three bond issues were presented to voters as separate propositions.
Cunningham said the building is larger than he initially envisioned.
"I'm proud of it," Cunningham said. "I'm glad for the kids. It's a nice place."
While Cunningham joked he could do without the building's new computer lab, he was glad the facility would provide space for the chapter's growing program.
He said the shop, with the expanded space, would allow more students to work on projects, while maintaining safety protocols. He was also glad the building has an improved ventilation system, for when students are welding.
One addition he appreciated, was the plasma cutter, calling it a "great machine."
"It's nice equipment and a nice building to go with it," Cunningham said.
Current ag instructor, Jace Newby agreed. He said the structure has more than 14,000 square feet making up the shop area and storage rooms, as well as the computer lab, additional classrooms, a break room and an office.
"I love it," Newby said, as he looked around the facility. "It's a huge space, with brand new tools. It's just awesome.
"It's one of the best I've seen in a long time, as far as space and power set up. It's going to be hard to beat."
Newby said the newest addition, the plasma cutter, is a $16,000 piece of equipment. It will allow students to gain real life experience cutting out everything from gig heads, parts or metal signage.
Newby said most fabrication or metal shops have similar sized machines, while hobby shops often have smaller versions.
He anticipates spending the remainder of the year, balanced around the approaching contest season and remaining livestock shows, working with his students to complete setting up the facility.
He said some of the district's equipment has been stored for the past two years, and it may take several weeks to get the shop completely up and running.
He does anticipate students beginning "actual projects" during the 2018-19 school year.
"This will get students an actual opportunity to apply what they are learning, and not just do book work," Newby said. "From the bottom of my heart, I thank the community. We got a new building. Because of [the public], we have this."
The remaining portion of the building, with almost the same space allowance, will be used for the district's technical education program, run by Kayla Engen, the district's tech teacher.
She plans to expand the district's tech offerings following the Technology Student Association (TSA) standards.
"It will provide a general overview of all of the technologies," Engen said, adding she plans to include wood work, electronics, automotive, computer based learning and even robotic trainings within her classes.
"I'm hoping students get a feel for what it takes to be a working member of society," Engen said. "They leave with a basic knowledge needed to venture out into whatever career they choose."
David Holcombe, former ag instructor, and president of the Jay School Board, just smiled as he saw the finished building full of students and members of the community.
"I'm so impressed [with the building]," he said. "This is so awesome. This has state of the art welding equipment. It has twice the shop area then the original building."
Holcombe joked that other ag instructors, who have visited the building leave a bit jealous of the facility.
"You aren't supposed to be envious of your neighbor, but they are envious," he said with a laugh. "This was built with 100 percent community support. It was long overdue."
Holcombe said he hopes the new facility will have an impact on the chapter's existing students, as well as future recruits.
"I hope it gets [the students] re-energized," Holcombe said. "We have a brand new facility. The sky is the limit. This is state-of-the-art.
"It impacts the total program. Not one part is better than the rest. There is something here for every kid, to go whatever direction they want to go."
Holcombe said the current students have already invested in the facility, with many helping to first clean, then paint the floors in the shop, classroom, offices and bathrooms.
"They have developed a pride in this," Holcombe said, adding that members of the art department are already planning murals to paint on the walls within the facility.