Ozark’s Alabama Aviation College is beginning a multimillion-dollar update to a main campus building this fall.

The Rufus Barnett Building, which houses the aviation maintenance technology classes, is being given a “super makeover,” said airframe and powerplant instructor Jerry Northway. Work is set to begin Aug. 1.

“Due to workforce shortages and high salaries, there has been a lot of excitement in the aviation industry in recent years that has transferred to the Alabama Aviation College,” said its director, Stan Smith said. “I’m thrilled to give our students the best facilities we can afford. The Rufus Barnett Building was built in 1967, and it’s time to modernize it to meet growing demands in the aviation industry.”

Funds for the renovation come from a $3.5 million state grant awarded in 2018. The funds are part of the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund, which awards money for projects that promote economic development and industrial recruitment in the state.

The Barnett Building, a unit of Enterprise State Community College, will see renovations to learning spaces and other areas to meet training needs of its students, according to a news release.

After renovations, the building will have a new lobby, testing rooms, classrooms, offices and restrooms. The building also will have a new engine overhaul lab and storage area that also can be used as a classroom.

“I am excited to be able to teach in a completely modernized facility that will include a point-of-use tool system, electronic manuals, electronic torque wrenches and electronic measuring tools,” Northway said. “The building will be completely revised from the ground up, with expanded classroom sizes and lab facilities.”

After the renovations are complete, the building will have new exterior windows, doors and signs. The grounds will be graded, and new drainage will be installed around the building. Paving also will be completed around the building, which will have a new transformer, power and electrical service.

A new fence will be added between the facility and the college’s Brown Building, and the canopy over the connector sidewalk between the two will be removed.

Administrators are developing a relocation plan for classes held in the building. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2021.

“Our goal is to provide the best hands-on training and learning environment to our students,” said Enterprise’s president, Matt Rodgers said. “These improvements will make sure that we continue to meet the needs of our students and an ever-changing workforce.”

Enterprise State is a comprehensive community college that serves more than 1,800 students annually at its Enterprise campus and the Alabama Aviation Colleges in Andalusia and Ozark. Each campus and site fulfills the Alabama Community College System’s mission for education and training that lead to high-wage, high-demand jobs in careers worldwide. Students can earn associate degrees and certificates through multiple programs at the college.

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