ACCC Grant 2023

TCC awarded another $500K of $1.3M total toward Culinary Arts Center
Posted on 10/03/2023
Framing for the grand entrance of the future Mules Café is installed.

Another $513,000 in grant money has been awarded toward the Culinary Arts Center at the Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center, adding to a total of approximately $1.3 million or, all told, about two-thirds of the project externally funded.

The R-I school district was among 17 that applied for the 50/50 matching grant made available through the Area Career Center Construction fund bill of which the TCC captured about 10 percent of the $5.5 million dispersed, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced on Friday, Sept. 22.

“The PB R-I School District is very excited to be considered and selected for this matching grant opportunity,” wrote Superintendent Dr. Aaron Cornman to Dr. Roger Barnes, DESE career and technical education coordinator. “We are very proud of the good work that Mr. [Charles] Kinsey started and Dr. [Leigh Ann] Cornman is continuing with regard to our CTE programs.”

TCC Director Dr. Leigh Ann Cornman, the superintendent’s wife, submitted the successful proposal in August upon learning about the opportunity from her predecessor Charles Kinsey, R-I assistant superintendent of business, when she took the helm the previous month. “The workforce needs have exploded across the country and as a result interest for the program is also increasing among our core sending schools,” Leigh Ann wrote in the project description, citing projections from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

Last year, Kinsey partnered with the Ozark Foothills Regional Planning and Butler County commissions to secure a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. He additionally was awarded $267,000 toward the project of three total rounds of funding approved under House Bill 3002, including an ACCC grant earlier this year that went toward a campus-wide HVAC overhaul at TCC.

Counting $45,000 in matching Vocational Enhancement Grant money for commercial kitchen equipment, the district will be committing around $700,000 locally toward the Culinary Arts Center including ancillary expenses such as paving the parking lot, ADA accessibility, a security system, fire alarm and ventilation hood, Kinsey reported.

“Our current governor, Mike Parson, is very pro-workforce development, and career and technical education, and many of our career centers are older, having been built in the early 1960s, or some before then,” Leigh Ann explained. “It was time to put some dollars into updating the infrastructure because we’re training tomorrow’s workforce, and we need to emulate the industry and have quality facilities that house our programming.”

The Board of Education approved a bid of $1.4 million from Zoellner Construction based out of Perryville in March. On Friday, June 9, ground was broken on the 4,640-square-foot state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Center, including the existing 1,400-square-foot conference room, which is being converted into a dining room/classroom for the culinary arts students.

Designed by Dille and Pollard Architecture of Poplar Bluff, the facility will feature a foyer with a reception area, additional private dining room, restrooms, dry storage, deep freezer, office overseeing the kitchen, and an expanded workstation that includes a pizza oven, indoor smoker, and double the number of fryers, flattop grills and range ovens.

Project officials are hopeful for a midyear move by wintertime to the new location from the present 2,880-square-foot space in the Administrative Building on North Westwood Boulevard. Options are being explored to design the décor of the future student-run restaurant to highlight all of the programs of the TCC, according to Brandon Moon, culinary arts instructor.

“I’m just really excited about all the pomp and circumstance around getting a new facility and having our culinary program here on campus – kind of the missing piece that will bring unity to the TCC,” Leigh Ann continued. “This opportunity wouldn’t be possible if Mr. Kinsey and his staff hadn’t done their due diligence earlier securing funding to be able to break ground, and I’m honored to be active in the process to possibly accelerate the timeline so we can have an even greater impact in our area and beyond.”


Cutline: Framing for the grand entrance of the future Mules Café is installed on Wednesday, Sept. 27, on the west end of the Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center.

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