MORIAH — By LOHR McKINSTRY
The Town of Moriah is getting a courthouse addition it couldn't afford otherwise, and Champlain Valley Technical Education Center students are getting hands-on construction experience.
Work is under way on the new courthouse wing that will include a larger courtroom and conference space for Moriah Town Court.
CV-TEC Mineville campus Construction Trades instructor Kevin Shaw said they'll be finished well before the end of the school year.
"It's a win-win situation for everybody. It's a good way to sharpen our skills. And the town gets an addition to its courthouse that it really needed."
The town is providing the materials, and CV-TEC is donating labor and tools for the project.
Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said the town got a $35,000 state grant for the project that will cover the materials.
"There was no room to hold court, no space for attorneys to meet with clients or victims. This is a good project. It gives them experience. It saves us a lot of money."
The town got estimates for a new building that put the cost at about $550,000, Scozzafava said, much more than Moriah could afford.
The town will also be able to hold its monthly meetings in the space, he said, when it's not being used for court.
"The kids are having a great time building it. CV-TEC is a great neighbor."
The building will comply with State Office of Court Administration and federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, he said, which the old structure didn't.
Shaw said work is picking up as the students become more experienced.
"Our students are all well-versed in what goes into the structural components of a building. They take what they learn in the field back to the classroom, and vice versa. When they're not working on it here, they're working on it in the classroom. They're really getting into the groove of things."
Natural Resources Conservation Instructor Thomas Rodriguez said the building is already framed out and the roof will go on soon.
"It's good cross-training for our students. Both construction-trades and natural-resources classes are here, and they're doing a good job. It looks awesome."
Shaw said they have about 30 students from both classes working on the project.
"We've managed to give our students a wider diversity of skills."
Student James Sprague said he's learning a lot on the project.
"The work is coming along fast. It's fun to do."
Moriah Town Justice Brian Venne has been watching as the project proceeds.
"They're doing a tremendous job. I'm pleased with them. The students are working quickly; the trusses are already up."
He said the Town Courthouse now has a tiny courtroom and lacked private space where prosecutors and defense attorneys could meet with people.
"There's literally no room now. The addition is going to change all that."
He and fellow Town Justice Jeffrey Farnsworth have been handling up to 40 cases a night. Most participants had to wait outside, even in the winter, until their cases were called.
Shaw said the students are excited about the project.
"They're doing really well. Our goal is to get it roofed and sided before Thanksgiving break. We're on target for that."
E-mail Lohr McKinstry at: firstname.lastname@example.org