Routt County fleet trucks to get new life at Babson Carpenter Center
December 2, 2018
HAYDEN — The entryway of the Babson Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center is lined with a hall of fame of restored vehicles.
Most of them are pick up trucks manufactured before 1980. Many of them were once farm trucks abandoned in pastures or beater trucks reliable enough to get around the Valley and not much farther. All of them are now rebuilt, restored or improved by students at the center under the direction of instructor Kevin Kleckler. Some of the restored trucks have traveled to new owners as far away as Australia.
Students at the Babson Carpenter Center will get the chance this winter to work on something newer — two former Routt County fleet vehicles.
When the county retires fleet vehicles, they are sold in a sealed bid auction. Of the 11 vehicles up for auction earlier this November, two vehicles with mechanical issues saw no interested buyers.
"The Routt County Board of County Commissioners happily agreed to donate the vehicles, stating that both vehicles fit nicely with mechanics, auto body and welding programs offered by the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Center and will help the students hone their skills on serviceable vehicles," Routt County Public Works Director Ray DuBois wrote in an email to Steamboat Pilot & Today.
The first was a 2008 Ford Expedition that was replaced earlier this year when it collided with a deer and sustained damage to the body and engine compartment. The second is a 2006 Ford F-250 with mechanical and electrical issues.
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Kleckler said students at the center rarely get to work on newer vehicle models. His program focuses on teaching them the basics of auto repair on older cars. When students get jobs at repair shops or dealerships, they learn the specifics of working on newer cars.
He said the new vehicles would give students an opportunity to make electronic diagnostic determinations and learn different repairs than they would on the older cars.
"That's what most of the vehicles are now," he said. "It gives it a little more real world experience, instead of just all the vintage stuff."
Donations are essential to the vocational school's operations, Kleckler said.
"I run it with $5,000 to teach all the kids that I do, so these donations like I get from you guys, man, it's essential to my lifeblood," Kleckler told county representatives delivering the trucks.
The Hayden School District pays for the cost of the facilities, he said, and Kleckler's college welding courses require a materials fee of about $175. It takes more than that to deliver the welding, auto mechanics and computer-assisted design classes at the center, which serves adults and students of all ages.
Once the county trucks are repaired, Kleckler will sell the cars and use the funds to continue teaching teens and adults at the center.
"This is awesome. It's a great use," said Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger. "I mean, they're providing a heck of a program for our kids. Especially people that aren't into college."
Every student in the Hayden School District takes one of Kleckler's classes. This year, students from Hayden, Steamboat, Oak Creek, Craig and even Baggs, Wyoming are taking courses at the center. Adult welding classes are also available each spring and winter on Wednesday evenings.
For more information on the center, visit haydenschools.org/babson-carpenter-and-technical.