Skilled labor: Homebuilders, 9-R trades courses fill a gap in labor and educational offerings

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 4:44 PM
Durango High student Logan Moore, 15, works on the stairway he built with friends and family on a former game trail that leads to Miller Middle School.

Every cloud is supposed to have a silver lining, but can the same be said for clear skies?

It can in Southwest Colorado, if you happen to be in the construction trades. Snow finally arrived on Monday, but unbroken weeks of dry skies and warm temperatures – heartbreaking to local skiers, boarders and snowmobilers – have been a boon to construction workers, as crews have been able to maintain something akin to a summertime pace building new local homes.

The large number of homes scheduled to go up in areas like Twin Buttes and Three Springs, due in part to the availability of low-interest construction loans, have some contractors scrambling to find skilled labor. Others are worried that the lack of labor may slow their projects when the traditional season for construction ramps up in the spring.

Another local construction story, on a smaller but no less significant scale, played out last autumn as Durango High School sophomore Logan Moore, son of Laura and Paul Moore, completed a project he had been thinking about for years.

A member of Durango’s Boy Scout Troop 501 who aspires to become an Eagle Scout, Moore knew his idea would satisfy one of the major Eagle Scout requirements: “to plan, develop and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school or (the) community.”

Check that requirement as completed. Moore’s pressure-treated timber, rebar and gravel stairway, built by the aspiring scout and a crew of family and friends, climbs from 26th Street and West Third Avenue up to the Miller Middle School athletic field. Complete with a sturdy handrail, it gives students and neighbors a safe path, replacing a hard-packed game trail that, in the rain and snow, turned into what Miller teacher Mike Jaramillo called “a toboggan course.”

Separate construction stories on very different scales. But are they related? We hope they can be. Because right now, Durango School District 9-R is working with the Homebuilder’s Association of Southwest Colorado on its Trades N’ Training program, giving students who want to pursue careers in construction hands-on experience and an opportunity to earn certificates in specific aspects of construction, like plumbing and electrical work. The idea is to teach students the skills they need to be attractive hires on the job site.

Logan Moore’s project may have satisfied his desire for building; we wish him the best on his application for Eagle status and all his future endeavors.

But it is nice to know that he and any of his fellow high school students who want to stay in the area and pursue construction careers have a path in place that should help them do so.