Boys at youth camp help with retirement center |

Boys at youth camp help with retirement center

Michael Schneider

Soon residents of the China Spring Youth Camp south of Gardnerville will be able to earn college and high school credits while helping to build five new structures for the Sierra Assisted Living Foundation complex.

The Douglas County School Board approved a plan to allow residents of the camp for juvenile offenders to take a construction class for dual credit, both high school and college.

Addressing the board in support of the project were representatives of the School District, China Spring, Western Nevada Community College and Sierra Assisted Living Foundation.

Jack Fleming, of Sierra Assisted Living, told the school board his organization has partial funds needed to complete the assisted living complex. He said the light gauge steel construction education project will use new technology to not only build the new buildings, but also teach the residents of China Spring a valuable trade.

“Thank God for all these people and that we’ve got this far,” said Fleming.

“We’re taking the technology of a light gauge skeleton and adding some technology to it,” said Fleming, explaining the process. “It comes out on the other end and it’s easy to put together.

“You can put a whole house on the back of one small trailer.”

“They say that by 2010, there will be materials in houses you won’t even recognize,” said Bill Oney of WNCC, describing how important the knowledge of the new trade will be to the China Spring residents.

“This is just the beginning,” said Oney. “But these are skills that I think these kids can use.”

Byron Waite, SALF project manager, said that in addition to being a help to assisted living and China Spring residents, the materials used are environmentally friendly. He said the project will use galvanized steel which is made 60 percent from recycled steel.

Additionally, the light gauge steel is an alternative to lumber as a building material.

“It’s competitive with prices for wood, has no knots and is straight and lighter,” said Waite.

“I’m really excited and probably for selfish reasons – the kids,” said Steve Thaler, China Spring youth facility director.

Thaler explained that 10 residents at a time would go to class to help build the Sierra Assisted Living Foundation Center and learn the trade.

“It gets 10 kids out of my hair, to be honest,” said Thaler. “More important, the kids come out with a skill in the newest technology.”

Board member David Brady asked Thaler if the materials could be used by the residents to make weapons.

“Other than checking them from time to time, to be honest, there’s nothing we can really do but we don’t really have that problem,” said Thaler, explaining that China Spring caters to non-violent offenders. “We do have 16 hours before they begin work dedicated to tools, tool identification and safety.”

Oney added that the residents will only use a screw drill and a chalk saw, much safer tools than are used in tradition construction, he said.

Waite said the residents will learn how to read drawings, learn safety in a construction environment and how to use a tape measure and various other tools.

“We kept pounding away at it and we got it,” said Oney.

The motion to allow the class for dual-credit was made by board member Don Forrester and passed unanimously at last week’s school board meeting.