Ivy Tech making two big investments at Tell City site

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Ribbon cut on welding lab; new $250,000 science room will be ready by spring



TELL CITY – Ivy Tech Community College Southwest cut the ribbon Tuesday afternoon on a newly renovated welding lab at its Tell City campus. It was the first of two major investments the state’s largest college is making in the Tell City location.

Ivy Tech invested $110,000 in the welding lab, which includes 16 welding stations, 34 new welders and two plasma cutting machines.

Two of the stations include wireless remote foot controls. Perry County contractors installed the new machinery, school officials said.

Old equipment was removed and the area was cleaned and painted. New safety features were also added.

Dean Gengelbach, who oversees the program, said the new lab as cutting-edge and that even he is learning new things as he prepares the equipment for fall classes. Gengelbach has been with Ivy Tech since it came to the community in the 1980s.

“I’m having to throw out old manuals and learn a few things myself,” he said.

The lab will be used by Ivy Tech students as well as student welders from local high schools enrolled in Ivy Tech’s dual-credit welding courses.

Several welding students attended Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting, which featured comments from Site Director Sherri Flynn, Mayor Barbara Ewing and Ivy Tech Chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel. Representatives of local schools and employers were also present.

Weinzapfel said the lab is part of Ivy Tech’s effort to provide skilled workers to local employers.

“Providing a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local employers is a key part of our mission,” he said “We are continually working with employers to understand their needs, and skilled welders are definitely in high demand.”

He said students trained on the equipment would be well prepared to go to work for local companies.

He and Ewing complimented the partnership present since the campus opened in the community. When school leaders announced that the campus could be closed in a statewide effort to save Ivy Tech money, the city negotiated a new lease with Ivy Tech. It will take effect Jan. 1 and reduces lease payments to $1 per year. Ivy Tech agreed to continue making lease payments for the remainder of 2014 to support the city’s budget. The city is beginning work on its 2015 budget and it will reflect the loss of rental income.

Starting next year, the city will also fund exterior maintenance, lawn care and snow removal.

Ewing has repeatedly credited the city’s economic development commission, the local community and Ivy Tech leaders for negotiating in good faith to keep the campus open.

“It would not be possible for us to continue providing educational opportunities, such as this top-of-the-line lab, without community partnerships,” said Weinzapfel. “Tell City has been a great partner to Ivy Tech. Because of their support, we can continue to meet the training needs of local students and employers as we further our investment in the community.”

New science lab coming
Ivy Tech officials announced Tuesday that work will begin soon on renovating existing space in the building to add a new science lab. The school is working with an architect on the plans and will accept bids next month. The $250,000 project will be completed next spring and will allow the campus to offer anatomy and physiology and general science courses to students. Many of those classes are required of students entering most health-care fields.

A portion of the lab equipment costs will be covered by a grant, and the remainder will be paid by Ivy Tech.