Program to build student skills, homes for families
Gov. Mike Rounds announced today that Oglala Lakota College, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation, will receive $100,000 to enhance its General Construction program. Dollars from the state’s Future Fund will allow the college to purchase materials, equipment and tools to build homes for use on the reservation.
“This is a win for all involved,” said Gov. Rounds. “The students benefit by gaining practical skills and experience that prepares them for jobs in the construction trades. Reservation families benefit by receiving an affordable home that’s built right within the community. It is grassroots economic development.”
Kockrow oversees OLC’s one-year General Construction program. This year, the program has 32 students. With these new funds, students in the program will have meaningful and consistent projects to work on year-round.
“Our students have never had the opportunity build a new home,” Kockrow said. Their projects typically include small renovation or improvement projects. “This will allow them to build a complete home from bottom to top.” Through the experience, students will learn to read blueprints, install cement forms, hang drywall, build cabinets, and install plumbing.
The school plans to purchase home kits for the project, with a goal of building at least one home a semester. Individuals who purchase the homes will supply the land. They also will be responsible for water, sewer and electricity. While the college is not expecting to make a profit on each house, Kockrow said the goal is to “get enough of a return out of each to sustain the program.”
“Throughout the reservation, there are multiple families living in one- or two-bedroom homes. Many of the homes do not have running water or electricity,” Kockrow said. This program could help to ease the situation by making affordable housing available.
According to Rounds, the project matches well with the goals of the 2010 Initiative and 2010 Education Initiative. “This project will help to fill a need for skilled construction workers and could result in some homegrown construction entrepreneurs. It provides a meaningful academic experience for these young people. I am pleased to support this opportunity.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Photo of check presentation to Marilyn Kockrow available upon request.