PORT HADLOCK — The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding has broken ground on a 4,800-square-foot building that will house classrooms and workshop space.
A ceremony was conducted last Thursday for the new building, which will allow the school to double its enrollment in the Marine Systems program starting next spring.
The new Marine Systems Shop is being built by Brent Davis Construction, a local firm that refurbished the school’s waterfront shops last year. Brent is a Boat School alumnus from 1997, said Betsy Davis, the executive director of the school, in a press release.
Funding is coming from the state Legislature ($464,000), The Norcliffe Foundation ($235,000), and Duke and Jeanne Shold ($70,000).
With the project, the school has invested more than $2.5 million in improvements to its 7-acre campus since 2015, Davis said.
“The new Marine Systems program has exceeded our expectations in providing a path to living-wage jobs for both young people who are facing escalating costs of higher education and people seeking retraining — all while meeting a critical need for skilled workers in the maritime trades from Port Townsend to Port Angeles to Seattle and beyond,” Davis said.
“In combination with the school’s boatbuilding programs, this expands the school’s capacity to provide accredited vocational training to over 700 students over the next decade, along with providing shorter-term advanced-skill training to over 300 local tradespeople in the same period.”
The custom-designed building will be able to accommodate a wide range of disciplines, including marine electrical, corrosion, plumbing, heating and cooling, hydraulics, outboard engines, diesel engines and steering and propulsion, Davis said.
Local designer Guy Hupy’s building plans include a poured concrete slab foundation, stick-framed, insulated walls, and an engineered truss roof. Large overhead garage doors will allow staff and students to transport training mock-ups, boats and other materials in and out of the shop, Davis said.
Chief Instructor Sean Koomen credited Marine Systems Lead Instructor Kevin Ritz for his contributions to curriculum design and delivery.
“Kevin’s knowledge of the field, network of industry experts and excellence as an instructor has elevated all our programs,” Koomen said. “His commitment to the craft of marine systems has influenced dozens of students to study marine systems, as well as boat building, because having knowledge of both makes them more complete problem solvers and boat builders.”
Davis credits state Reps. Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend, and Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, in addition to Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, for their work in getting legislative support for the project.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.