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Covington is starting a Restoration Trades School to create jobs and fix up old buildings

Christopher Myers
This building at 1515 Madison Ave. used to be the Colonial Inn. The city now owns it and it will be a working laboratory for the restoration school.

The city is targeting women of color, people of color, veterans and high school students for the new program.

Walk around Covington, and you’ll see hundreds of historic homes, many of them in need of repair. But restoration is a specialized skill. There are a limited number of people who can do it and it can be expensive.

Armed with a couple of grants and matching funds, the city has a plan to create a workforce trained in restoring buildings.

“We’re going to skill up people so we’re creating a Covington Restoration Trades School to help give folks the skills that they need to fix masonry, repair windows, address box gutters, plaster work, all of those trades,” says the city’s Christopher Myers, who oversees historic preservation.

Covington is partnering with the Building Industry Association of Northern Kentucky and has hired two consultants. One of them is Bob Yapp, founder of the Belvedere School for Hands-on Preservation in Hannibal, Missouri. He’s charged with identifying teachers, assessing equipment, and writing the curriculum.

PlaceEconomics will study successful restoration trades programs in other states.

Where will it be?

Students will study at the Enzweiler Building Institute’s laboratory space in Erlanger and then get hands-on practice at the old Colonial Inn at 1515 Madison Avenue.

“This building (1515 Madison), if you name a trade, it needs it," Myers says. "So, it’s the perfect kind of practice space for that hands-on real-world experience that we want to give students coming through the Covington Restoration Trades School. So, piece by piece, room by room, we’re going to take it apart, put it back together, fix it up and restore it.”

Christopher Myers
This ornate door is part of 1515 Madison Ave. where students will work.

For further practice, Covington is also working to identify people who need home repairs but can’t afford them.

What kind of students is the school targeting?

Women of color, people of color, veterans, and high school graduates are the people Myers is hoping to get. You don’t have to live in Covington. The program is working to get childcare, transportation, and translation services for those interested.

The school is expected to start in May 2022.

Those interested in more information can contact Myers at cmyers@covingtonky.gov

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.