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Groundbreaking on the planned 21,000-square-foot addition to the Uintah Basin Applied Technology Center could be as early as June.

Final funding for the $2.5 million technology wing addition was approved last week as part of the Legislature's $100 million bonding package.Last year lawmakers approved the first $1 million to get the project in motion. The remaining $1.5 million needed to complete the project was fifth on the final list of new state construction approved by Gov. Norm Bangerter and the Legislature.

According to Assistant Superintendent Dick Jones, architectural work is nearly finished, and the project should be ready for bid around April 1. Construction is expected to begin June 1.

The new wing will be built as a separate facility on the center's east side, and it will be connected to the existing building by a vestibule, he said.

The technology wing will house a tele-learning lab, child-care development center, technology lab, a media center and open-lab computer area. It also will feature one large 200-seat-capacity classroom that can be divided into three smaller rooms.

Although plans for the new wing have been in the works for over six years, the funding couldn't have come at a better time, said Jones.

"Several classes are now operating out of trailers which don't meet safety codes. These trailers need to be moved out. We've been quite crowded."

The technology center employs a staff of 50 and offers classes in Vernal and at Uintah High School besides in Roosevelt. There are 1,200 secondary students and approximately 800 post-secondary students enrolled.

Classes operate on an open-entry/open-exit basis. No college credit is given, but certificates of competency are awarded.

"Basically the center offers short-term training to get people into the job market, said Jones. "We have programs in 15 major categories to choose from. Everything from LPN courses, to diesel mechanics and businesses classes. Actually we teach anything that local industry needs. We are supposed to cover all the educational needs of industry for the total population of the basin."

The Uintah Basin Applied Technology Center is just one of five applied technology centers in the state. It serves Uintah, Duchesne and Daggett counties.