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Lower Valley vo-tech center attracts designers' interest

Lower Valley Vocational Technology Center planners learned yesterday (Wednesday) that 23 architectural firms have expressed interest in designing the Yakima Valley's new center for vocational technology training.

During its monthly meeting, the Lower Valley Vocational Technology Center planning committee learned that no designs have been sketched out yet, said Sunnyside School District Community Resources Director Ruben Carrera, who chaired yesterday's meeting.

"But it is exciting to know that there are firms out there ready to take on the project," he said.

Carrera said the architectural firms are vying for the rights to design and build not only the proposed $11 million Lower Valley skills center, but a similar center in Yakima as well.

"The existing Yakima Skills Center is being forced to vacate its Yakima Valley Community College campus location in the coming year, which means a new center is needed in that community as well," Carrera said.

"The need for blueprints for the new Yakima center dovetails with the Lower Valley proposed center," he explained.

But, he said, it may be some time before a firm is chosen and prospective plans are accepted.

"However, we should have a design in place by the time we begin the state and federal funding application process in February 2006," he added.

The Lower Valley committee formed a subcommittee in June to investigate funding options, which included a trip to Washington D.C. to seek federal funds. The committee hopes to obtain at least $1 million to use as seed money for the center's development.

In the meantime, Carrera said Yakima Valley school superintendents will be meeting in September to iron out the vocational and technological curriculum at both centers.

He said the Lower Valley Vocational Technology Center Committee won't be meeting in September, but it will take part in a series of focus group meetings to be held in mid-October.

"The local committee will be waiting for the results from the superintendents' meeting before finalizing plans for the Lower Valley building," he added.

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