Students and teachers at the local high school celebrated the grand opening of the school’s new portable sawmill last Thursday.
The portable sawmill was donated to Stanley Humphries Secondary School (SHSS) by Zellstoff Celgar and allows students to cut their own lumber from logs donated by local businesses, including Celgar and ATCO Wood Products.
To house the new piece of equipment, students at SHSS built a timber-frame structure with a roof.
“We started that in middle of May last year. We had the timber frame up by the end of June and then we finished the roof this September. So we got the roof completed about a month ago,” said Don Liszt, construction woodwork teacher at SHSS and one of the teachers coordinating the project.
Liszt also had help from Trent Coombs, SHSS social studies teacher and master corporal in the 44th Field Engineering Squadron, and Keenan Richards, who teaches metal shop and auto shop and whose metal shop class did all the metal fasteners for the timber frame.
While the students did a lot of the work on the structure, many community businesses contributed to that piece of the project as well.
“CUPE helped us with the roof portion. … Dirty Diggers dug the holes for us, the kids did all the footing work, poured the concrete. The kids did all the timber framing,” explained Liszt.
The big timbers on top of the structure were donated by Kalesnikoff Lumber and the dimensional lumber came from Interfor, which SHSS students have also been using to build sheds for communities.
All of the sponsors were invited to join SHSS students and teachers to celebrate the portable sawmill’s grand opening, where James Cernigoj, Grade 12, and Easton Ambrosio, Grade 11, demonstrated the use of the portable sawmill.
SHSS owning its own sawmill came about because Liszt and Coombs started the Kootenay Forest Connection Club at the school a year and a half ago.
“It was just off timetable [for] kids that wanted to get an idea of what the forestry industry is all about. We set up the club, when out to ATCO, one of their cut blocks and watched them operate all the equipment out there. Went and toured their mill. And then we went to the 44th Field Engineers down in Trail, the reserves, and we showed them how to use the mill then,” explains Liszt. “And that’s what started this whole thing.”
From there the teachers decided it would be great if they could teach students how to use a portable sawmill at the school.
“And we put out some feelers and Celgar thought it was a great and they just decided to step up to the plate and bought us the whole kit and caboodle,” said Liszt.
The portable sawmill is now incorporated into classes such as the senior construction class and some of the shop classes.
“It just opened up a huge new area for the kids. We kind of like to think of it as from primary industry to secondary to tertiary industry. So you’re going from raw logs to lumber to the finished project,” said Liszt.