Heritage, William Blount celebrate high-tech paint bays for students

New paint bays were recently opened at both Heritage and William Blount high schools and Blount County School Board chair Chris Cantrell credited outgoing schools director Alvin Hord.

“It took a lot of persistence on Mr. Hord’s part to see this was something that was finished and upgraded,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell praised the efforts of career technical programs at both high schools and teachers Randy Byrd and Joe Byrd. “They were doing well with deteriorating equipment,” he said.

The school board chair said it was a long process to getting the auto body paint booths because while capital was allocated more than once for the new equipment, other more pressing needs forced the school system to spend that money in other ways. Finally, the school system was able to afford purchasing the new equipment, and it was installed recently.

“It was due to a lot of energy and commitment on the part of Mr. Hord to the career technical program to get these paint booths,” Cantrell said.

The NorAm system at both schools is state-of-the-art and will give students equipment to work on that mirrors what they will find in the work place, said Heritage Collision Repair Instructor Randy Byrd. At the ribbon-cutting at both schools, there were examples of cars and trucks that had been painted with the new system. “This is a high-tech system that will benefit our students in many ways,” Randy Byrd said.

Randy Byrd at Heritage said he has three classes of students with a total of about 60 students this semester. At William Blount, Joe Byrd, who is a nephew to Randy, said he has one class and approximately 12 upperclassmen in the class.

“This means a lot to our program,” Joe Byrd said. “It’s hard to teach without good tools. This is what the kids will see when they get out in the work world. It’s state-of-the-art.”

Cost of the bays were approximately $63,000 once everything was finished, Joe Byrd said.

NorAm representatives were on hand for the ribbon cutting. “These were built to spec,” said Richard Janeway with NorAm. “It’s a great thing for these schools to have.”

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