Trinidad State welding students complete community project with 30 minutes to spare
Valley Campus / February 3, 2016 / Written by Margaret Sanderson
The new community event center at 4th and Ross in Alamosa will soon be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant – thanks to a number of local businesses and Trinidad State welding students. With its new wheel chair accessible restrooms and the back door ramp, the center can now be accessed by all. For many years the building served as a church for the Christian Science Society. It is now called the Society Hall.
Ruthie Brown, a well-known community activist, had been curious about the building for some time. When she drove by about a year ago and noticed the for-sale sign and saw someone she knew leaving, she parked her car and climbed the steps to ask if she could see inside. After seeing the rows of seats arranged theater style sloping toward the front stage area and noting the great condition of the interior, she thought it would be perfect for community events and would not require a major remodel.
She immediately contacted Don Richmond (a well-known local musician) and his wife, Teri McCartney, and asked for their help. They met Brown at the building. Upon entering Richmond walked down to the stage area and sang out to test the acoustics. Pleased with the results, they all set to work to solicit community support for the purchase of the building.
The Society Hall Foundation, which has now purchased the building, had planned to have a new wooden ramp built to replace the deteriorated old one at the back door until Brown saw a metal ramp at the courthouse in Walsenburg. Later she approached Norm Williams, welding instructor at Trinidad State with her request for a metal ramp. She knew his welding program had assisted with other community projects.
Most of the Trinidad State students who worked on the new steel ramp had never run a bead or welded a thing. The fall semester had just begun and only three of the 17 students, which includes one female, had experience welding. “These students were thrown into this project before they were prepared, and I was skeptical about the timeline but they stepped up and surprised me. They did a good job,” said Williams.
Just four days before the first event, a community fund raiser on September 17, the steel for the rear entrance ramp was delivered. Scrambling to meet the deadline and complete their project, the students stayed after school several nights to get it done in time. Using a fork lift, it took two trips for Williams to transport the deck and then the ramp two blocks directly east of the college to the Society Hall. Hurrying to get it installed in time, they set the deck, installed the ramp and added the hand rails. It was ready for use just thirty minutes before the concert began! Brown said that attendance was good and the community response is encouraging.
Soon after the ramp’s installation, welding students Steven Garcia (Antonito) and Wyatt Perrin (Center) did some finish work on the ramp and then installed a plate to attach the walkway to the building. Both young men had welded at home prior to beginning this class. Garcia said about the program, “It’s cool. I like coming to class every day.” Perrin said, “It’s fun. I learn something new every day.” Perrin’s dad also studied welding at Trinidad State.
As soon as additional steel arrives, the class will begin work on a front entrance ramp. To meet the ADA specifications (one inch slope per foot) it will need to be approximately three times the length of the ramp they built for the rear entrance. It will extend from the front steps, around to the back on the south side of the building and then double back to the sidewalk in the front.
“The building is just beautiful,” said Brown. “We’re ecstatic. The price was right and we need a facility like this. It can be used for weddings, concerts, poetry readings or whatever. And I work with folks with special needs. The ADA compliant restrooms and ramps will be great for them and for our older folks. Who knows? I may need to use them someday!”
The Trinidad State welding students have their work cut out for them this semester. And the Society Hall will have front and back ramps that will provide access for all to community events.