CV Tech works to dispel wind tower blade reports

EL RENO - Some news media have inaccurately reported that Canadian Valley Technology Center's child care facility was destroyed by a wind tower blade during the May 31 tornado.

The tornado destroyed several homes and businesses in Canadian County.

The El Reno technology center was among areas hit hardest by the storm. All buildings on the campus were severely damaged. School administrators are actively pursuing alternate sites in order to host classes.

Superintendent Dr. Greg Winters is confident full-time classes will start on time in August.

The recent tornado did in fact lift a wind tower blade off the ground and onto a nearby building that housed a child care center and health care training classes.

The blade was not attached to a turbine. The 147-foot blade once laid end to end about 75 feet from the building. Steel straps bound the 16,000-pouond blade to massive concrete structures.

Nevertheless, the tornado lifted and turned the blade and rested it against the building.

The blade was a training tool used in the school’s wind energy training program, which launched in 2010. The program supplies trained technicians for state wind farms. Graduates earn 13 industry certifications within a four-week period and earn an average of $18 per hour when placed at wind farms as Level 1 wind technicians.

The program features two training towers on campus. An 85-foot tower does not have blades, and another 126-foot tower has blades. Both structures survived a direct hit from the storm and are intact.

The blade on the ground was donated by a wind equipment manufacturer for training purposes.

Bill Hulsey, El Reno Campus Business and Industry Services Director, said the internet stories about the turbine "flying off a tower and into the daycare center" or destroying it are unfortunate and baseless.

The child care center was not open at the time of the storm, and nobody was inside the building. The 15 people who were on campus at the time of the tornado took shelter in the basement of another building.