Tradesmen showed off their work in a skills challenge Saturday on Rt. 58, where an open house was hosted by the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Ohio-Kentucky Administrative District Council.
The council has erected two buildings at the corner of Rt. 58 and Rt. 113 — one meant to house administrative offices and the other for training and apprenticeship programs.
In the completed training building, the skills challenge was held by the Mason Contractors Association of America, which attracted roughly 300 participants throughout the day, said Ken Kudela, director of the Ohio-Kentucky ADC. Competitors ranged from first-year to third-year apprentices.
The competition has been held for 15 years — but never before in Amherst.
“We just got this facility open and operating in September,” he said. “The administrative building should also be done in the near future.”
As Kudela went over details of the event, he was also showing his seven-year-old grandson, Jackson Fortner of Amherst, some basic tropes of bricklaying.
“I’m a first-generation bricklayer and I’ve been at it 37 years,” he said. “To sit here with him and pass some of that knowledge along feels pretty good. People always asked me if my boys would be bricklayers. I told them they’d learn to lay brick, but what they do for a career is their own decision.”
“Buildings will always need to be constructed,” he said. This is the largest apprenticeship class ever, with 127 people learning across Ohio and Kentucky.
“This facility is here to give us room to expand and grow. It will allow us to reach out to more schools and trade groups going forward,” Kudela said.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.