Saturday, March 10, 2012

Repurposing a Lighthouse

Recycling, tourism lighthouse project seeking support

Posted: Mar 08, 2012 4:08 PM EST Updated: Mar 08, 2012 4:24 PM EST
An old wind tower is getting closer to becoming a lighthouse – the dream of a Summersville couple who own and operate a lake retreat.

Students from vocational programs at Fayette Institute of Technology and the Nicholas County Career and Technical Center are working with Steve and Donna Keblesh to complete the Summersville Lake Lighthouse. The business-education partnership aims to give vocational students the opportunity to try out their skills in real-world situations.

The group is funding the project with various levels of sponsorship. Sponsorships of more than $500 earn the sponsor a commemorative plate on one of the steps of the lighthouse.
So far, Steve Keblesh said, they have sold about 24 of the 120 steps to the top of the lighthouse.

"We still seeking some corporate backing," Keblesh said. "We're looking for anybody with a love for West Virginia."

Higher levels of sponsorship can get a special plaque on the lighthouse landing or on the gallery deck.

Some of the students and teachers of the programs as well as the Kebleshes were at the state Capitol Thursday to share a 7-foot-model of the lighthouse.

The State Journal reported on developments of the project last November.
"We now have 32 steps on site. There's 10 to be picked up at the Nicholas County school, which brings us to 42 of a total of 120," Keblesh said. "They are picking up speed making them, and it's going to be a race making them."

If the project isn't ready by graduation, he said, they would continue construction of the steps soon.

Keblesh has also picked up a new beacon with a 36,000-lumen lens. For comparison, he said, a typical football stadium light is 80 lumens. The light, he said, could be viewed as far as 80 miles.

Bill Toney, president of Engineering Testing 2000 in Lewisburg, led the engineering of Beech Ridge Wind Farm Project. He said the project was unique but was also a natural adaptation to a wind tower.

"It's easier than you think because it came prefabricated almost," he said. "It was reclaimed from the windmills and we just kind of had to make some accommodations to fit public use."
Keblesh said he wanted to be involved in the project because of its benefit to the community.
"It's really a beautiful project and something that started from something so simple," Toney said. "It's just going to broadcast generation to generation."

The high school students working on the project say they are excited to be working on a project that could become a tourism and historical landmark in southern West Virginia.

Lucas Gardner, a 12th grade student in the computer-aided drafting class in Fayette County, said the real-world applications of his class have been what made the project most interesting.

"We're actually taking real measurements and making blueprints of a real thing that is going to be a real structure to be built," he said. "It's fun, but it's a lot of work. It has taken more time than our other stuff we had been doing, but it means more. You learn more from it."

The 120-foot lighthouse will be the first in West Virginia. Steve Keblesh said he hopes the project will attract tourists, including those from the nearby Summit Bechtel Reserve in Fayette County.

The lighthouse is expected to open to coincide with the Boy Scout National Jamboree in the Spring of 2013.

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