MOSES LAKE — As the concrete pours, Columbia Basin Job Corps instructor Scott Sewell is keeping a close eye on both the work and his students.
“When you hear that beeping,” he says of noise the cement truck makes backing up, “you need to find the truck.”
Always know where you are in relation to the cement truck, he said.
It’s an early Wednesday morning, 6 a.m., and Sewell, along with two other instructors from the Columbia Basin Job Corps, six students, and a few folks from Tomer Construction, is at the Grant County International Airport pouring concrete for the Clyde Owen Commemorative Park.
Owen, the last commander of Larson Air Force Base and first Executive Director of the Port of Moses Lake, turned 100 last year.
“With increased (air) traffic, the Port talked about a viewing area, and with Clyde’s 100th birthday, we decided to combine the two,” said Milton Miller, director of facilities for the Port of Moses Lake.
Miller said that the park, which will include memorial plaques on basalt pillars and a small, ringed sitting area made of concrete, should be ready in time for the Moses Lake Air Show, which will be held for the first time this year on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15.
Wednesday morning, students were helping pour and smooth concrete into an elaborate curved wooden frame students had built at Job Corps and assembled on-site.
“This is my first real project,” said Austen Nine, a Job Corps student specializing in carpentry. “I helped build the wall forms.”
However, Wednesday morning found Nine with a float in his hand, smoothing concrete.
“This isn’t my first time with concrete, either,” he said. “I tried out cement, and I’m learning to use the float.”
This isn’t the first time students from the Columbia Basin Job Corps have been involved in a Port project. Last year, students were involved in pouring and shaping the concrete for a new memorial honoring those killed in the crash of a Japan Air Lines jet during training in June 1969. And even earlier, students helped build a memorial to those killed in the crash of a U.S. Air Force transport plane in December 1952.
“Twice a year we get an outside project, every once in a while,” said Tim Mitchell, who teaches carpentry at Columbia Basin Job Corps.
While Miller said the Job Corps students are helping with the concrete work in the new park, Mitchell said the carpentry students were also needed to build the frame that will shape and form the concrete sitting area long enough for the concrete to dry.
“We can totally pull it off tomorrow,” Mitchell said Wednesday morning.
But Sewell noted laying and pouring concrete is as much an art as it is a science.
“If we could tell you when concrete’s going to dry, we’d be millionaires,” he said. “That’s kind of up to it.”
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.