STAPLES -- The grand opening of the $1.7 million Central Lakes College Heavy Equipment facility at Staples last week featured earth-movers in action -- and with a purpose.
A dozen bulldozers and backhoes scraped and shaped the ground in the first phase of what will become a three-hole golf course.
A golf course on a college campus?
Well, the West Campus Course won't exactly be a duffer's paradise. No clubhouse. No caddies.
Stan Edin, retired Staples Technical College president, drew praise from Sally Ihne, president of Central Lakes College, for his initiative that helped open the Heavy Equipment Operations and Maintenance program that last week dedicated a $1.7 million classroom building.
The concept fits with CLC programs. Heavy Equipment Operations and Maintenance students are on the ground-floor, so to speak. They will be joined by Landscape and Natural Resources students and those in Concrete Pump Operation to create the 20-acre enhancement of turf that lacked personality.
"We'll have three nice tees and three short but lively fairways," said Steve Schluender, a Heavy Equipment instructor who likes the practical means to an end. "Can't you just picture a pond in the middle with a fountain out there?"
That's his vision, one shared by colleagues Don Gillson, Gordy Vierkant, Steve Kaylor and Jerry Jackson.
The site is part of the 460-acre spread just off Wadena County 55, a newly surfaced road that last week was filled with a stream of curious neighbors, excavators, media and families of students in the Midwest's longest-running Heavy Equipment program. The action dominated the dedication of the 15,500-square-foot building unveiled as the classroom center for training that requires ample theory, mechanical skill and time at the controls.
CLC President Sally Ihne cited retired Staples Technical College president Stan Edin and original grant writer, Art Vadness, for creating the program 37 years ago. She said Heavy Equipment has a wide reputation among construction firms and agencies now staffed by CLC alumni.
Some from the program have gone on to build successful excavation businesses, Ihne noted in remarks before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Given local trends, a golf course -- particularly the construction of it -- can be a classroom.
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