Reposted with permission from the Hobbs News Sun

$46 million facility expected to open for 2022-23 school year

The CTE project will provide students with the training to serve the local gas and oil Industry, as well as wind, solar and other energy technologies. Additionally, the new CTE facility will provide educational emphasis on architecture and construction, manufacturing, information technology, transportation and logistics, and STEM.

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There’s a hole in the ground just east of the Watson Memorial Stadium east of the Hobbs High School campus.

And it’s a pretty big hole.

Ground has broken on the $46 million Hobbs Municipal Schools Career Technical Education center. The facility is scheduled to have a soft opening around February of 2022 with an official opening at the start of the 2022-23 school year.

The facility, which received close to a 75 percent Hobbs voter approval for bond funding last year, is also being partially funded by the City of Hobbs and the JF Maddox foundation.

However the reason many Hobbs residents may not know the building’s construction has started is because no groundbreaking ceremony took place. And it’s easy to figure out why.

“Given the current situation in our world with the COVID pandemic and New Mexico’s mandates of having large group gatherings, we just weren’t able to have a ceremony like we wanted to,” said HMS Associate Superintendent Gene Strickland recently.

The idea of some sort of a celebration is still in the planning stages. One of the CTE project’s other partners is the Permian Strategic Partnership, is comprised of several major oil and gas companies, most of which are headquartered in Texas. So logistically, having members from those companies all able to partake in a singular celebratory event would also prove to be a challenge.

“We’ll look back at the idea when we meet again in October,” Strickland said. “Hopefully by then we’ll have of our statewide restrictions lifted and we can plan a more appropriate open. We are starting to look at milestone events within the project itself. Yes, there is the groundbreaking, which has taken place, but there is the toping out ceremony, where you have the highest beam on the building installed.”

There are other milestones within the project’s construction schedule that are also being looked at.

While that topic is being discussed, construction right now is purely foundation work. The location of the facility sits within the area of a flood plain, so that is being addressed as the foundation is being created. However because of the flood plain the buildings foundation will have different elevations within it.

“You can see the elevation change between the south wing and the north wing of the building,” Strickland said. “Originally, we had planned a three-story building and the foundation was going to have to come out of the ground nine feet. Now that we are a two-story building, we only have to come out of the ground five feet.”

Strickland said the design change from three stories to two was simply a monetary decision. After more current pricing estimates were determined, the cost of a three-story CTE was going to be about $10 million more than the original $46 million plan.

“At every design phase we were able to do a design estimate,” Strickland said. “At that phase of design it was about $10 million over budget and we knew there wasn’t going to be any more money in the pot.”

So designers went back to their drawing boards and were able to create a two-story structure that allowed the building to still have all its curriculum availability. Strickland said the new design shaved off about 16,000 square-feet off the building.

“Overall, we have a better building design as a two story then that of a three story,” Strickland said. “We twisted the building about 30 degrees and sequencing, it is going to be so much more effective because we can get the new building up and running and then tear down the CAI (Computer Aided Instruction) building.”

The CAI is the high school’s ITT building, which will be incorporated into the CTE before it is torn down.

By then the school district will, hopefully, have had some sort of a celebratory event honoring the construction or maybe even the completion of its latest educational facility.