Cabell County Schools kicks off construction of new career tech center
- Oct 17, 2023
BARBOURSVILLE — Charles R. Neighborgall IV said standing in the former Sears building and future career technology center at the Huntington Mall on Tuesday was a “full circle moment” as both his father and grandfather helped construct the former Sears and Cabell County Career Technology Center before him.
Cabell County Schools celebrated a “Kickoff to Construction” for the new Woody Williams Center for Advanced Learning and Careers on Tuesday with district partners, community members and many current Cabell County Career Technology Center students.
Neighborgall, president of Neighborgall Construction, which was awarded the $48,215,000 contract for the construction of the new Woody Williams Center, said it made him emotional thinking about the past and future of the space.
“My grandfather back in the ‘50s built the original Sears, it was where the St. Mary’s School of Nursing is now. … Then in the early ‘80s, late ‘70s, (my father) built the Sears building here at the mall and the career center where it’s currently housed. And here in two years we’ll finish this,” Neighborgall said. “It’s a little emotional for me, but it’s fantastic. And their mission and purpose here is terrific because that’s our future workforce that’s going to be learning right here, so that’s a neat aspect of this project for us.”
In lieu of shoveling dirt as Cabell County Schools representatives have done at previous groundbreaking ceremonies, staff and some students hammered nails and welded some metal for the Kickoff to Construction event.
The facility, which is expected to take about two years to complete, will have approximately 240,000 square feet of space for classrooms and teaching spaces to house current Cabell County Career Technology Center programs and allow the possibility of adding some new programs.
Brent Casey, Woody Williams’ grandson, said it was an honor to see Williams recognized with the naming of the Woody Williams Center for Advanced Learning and Career.
“I think Woody would be, would absolutely say, of all of the recognitions and honors, including receiving the Medal of Honor from President Truman in 1945, none of those were more important than what we are doing here today, than what will happen in this building in the future and for future generations,” Casey said.
Melissa Ash, principal of the current Cabell County Career Technology Center, said ahead of the hammering and welding that the new center will be an educational beacon.
“This signifies a turning point in our commitment to education, professional development and the future of our community here,” “As we hammer these first nails later in the ceremony and torch this metal, we symbolically lay the groundwork for the Williams Center to be a beacon of progress, a fortress of innovation and a hub for learning.”
Ash said the district’s responsibility with the new facility includes not only meeting students’ current needs in career and technical education, but that it evolves as demands of the workforce change.
Superintendent Ryan Saxe also introduced representatives from Marshall Health Network, Moses AutoMall and Moses Auto Group, and Putnam County Bank as initial partners and sponsors of lab and classroom spaces in the new Woody Williams Center.
“These business partners will play a pivotal role in shaping the educational and professional paths of our students and the spaces in which they learn because of their generous sponsorships,” Saxe said.
Sarah Ingram is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, covering public K-12 education. Follow her on Twitter @SIngramHD.