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Voc tech center plans pushed forward

Saying a recent trip to Washington D.C. proved to be very helpful, Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole is eager to proceed with the next step in making the Lower Valley Community Vocational Technology Center a reality.

Cole said the voc-tech center concept was heartily approved by state lawmakers Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and Congressman Doc Hastings during his June visit to the nation's capital.

"They offered us a lot of advice for being prepared for the next federal funding cycle," Cole told members of the voc-tech center planning committee yesterday (Wednesday).

Cole and a team of Sunnyside leaders recently traveled to Washington D.C. to seek financial aid for the center, which is expected to cost an estimated $12 million to construct.

The committee, made up of a variety of members from public and private agencies, is seeking nearly $1 million in federal funds in the coming year.

"We received a realistic time line from the lawmakers to help us in being prepared for the federal deadline in February 2006 for grant requests," Cole said.

Saying the center will have a huge impact on the number of Lower Valley students seeking access to higher education, promoters believe the center will also greatly boost the quality of vocational and technical training needed to provide a skilled workforce in the Lower Valley.

During Wednesday's meeting, the local committee focused on possible funding sources from which the necessary funds will be obtained for the project.

Using a combination of matching funds, loans and grants, from both state and federal sources, the committee hopes to begin breaking ground on the 20,000 sq. ft. building by 2007.

The center would be located in the Sunnyside Port District's East Edison Avenue Business Park on approximately eight acres of ground.

Currently, work is being done to obtain funds for infrastructure assessments, as well as preliminary engineering and architectural designs.

"When the committee meets on Aug. 17, we expect to have an architect's rendering of the building, a construction timeline and an infrastructure cost plan," Cole said.

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