By Leticia Bodine | Ranger Reporter
Amarillo College staff and personnel have pulled together to keep the motorcycle operator training courses on track since the March 22 fire in Building B on the West Campus destroyed 20 of the 28 motorcycles being used in the program.
Classes were canceled the weekend following the fire, which the Amarillo Fire Department determined was accidental. Luke Morrison, coordinator of personal enrichment, said classes resumed the last weekend in March.
“The classes that were canceled the weekend before doubled up with the classes when they resumed in the back parking lot of the West Campus motorcycle range,” he said. “We were able to schedule one class after the other. While one class was in the classroom, the other was on the range, so we were able to juggle them to make it work.”
Of the 20 bikes that were destroyed, 16 were long-term loan bikes from the Department of Public Safety, two were loaned from Tripp’s Harley Davidson and two belonged to AC.
“All bikes were insured, so insurance money will go to all those that the bikes belonged to,” Morrison said.
A new training bike ranges anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000, but only three were new. Some of the bikes were from 1990, so there is not an exact total value for the bikes because it is based on depreciation, Morrison said.
“We have received sympathy and empathy by all the dealers and the motorcycle community,” he said. “This course is a community-supported program that meets a community need.”
Eight additional motorcycles that were not destroyed are on long-term loan by the DPS motorcycle division.
“We try to keep the bikes not all in one location,” Morrison said. “Because we have two sites where we have classes, as much as we are able to, we keep them separated. We are trying to look at a long-term storage solution for the bikes, but nothing has been finalized.”
“The only way that the fire affected me was that it moved the date out, but they worked me back into my class schedule,” said Tony Reilman, a student in the motorcycle operator training course.
He said AC stepped up in a professional manner to handle the situation and make sure everyone who enrolled in the course was able to take it.
“They made a point to keep things going like they normally do,” he said. “I was not in the class that had to double up, but I had some friends in the class, and they said that everything went smooth and that everything was right on track like it was supposed to be.”
Even though the fire was contained to the storage unit in the north end of building, the recently renovated classrooms in the south end, including new technology, suffered extensive smoke damage.
“Damage repair done to the building will be completed this week,” said Bruce Cotgreave, physical plant director. “We are waiting on the 40-plus computers to come in, if not this week, then next week.”
The south part of the building was reopened a week after the fire, Cotgreave said.
“Where the heavier concentration was, it has taken us a bit longer,” he said.
“There is a possibility you can clean the computers, but there is also a risk you may damage them as you clean them. We are still haggling with the insurance company for smoke damage done to computers.”
Cotgreave said it is crucial that everything in Building B is up and running in time for finals week, and he said he thinks it will happen.
“For now, we are having to double up in D Building,” he said.
An estimated $350,000 to $400,000 overall was reported in damages. AC will cover the $50,000 deductible, and insurance will cover the rest.
“The folks at West Campus have made do on a temporary basis,” Cotgreave said. “IT department, physical plant and others have pulled together to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible. They have done a remarkable job.”