After years of work, an arch marking the northern entrance of the Jefferson City Greenway was erected Wednesday by a Nichols Career Center instructor and students who helped design and build it.
"A lot of people get to see what we do," Henry Kremer, a Fatima High School student, said of the finished arch as a symbol of the welding work he and other Nichols students learn.
Nichols welding instructor Ken Thomas said 14 students have helped with construction of the mostly aluminum arch over time, and much of the work happened since last year. The idea of the project actually goes back three years, he added.
"It was a long process," Thomas said, with work on the arch tucked between curriculum lessons.
"Some of the ideas were students'," he said of aspects of the project, like the square rings around the arch's vertical support tubings that add visual depth to the design.
He said the whole thing was hand-cut and welded by his students and him, with the exception of the "Greenway" letters, cut recently by Nichols' new automated CNC plasma cutter.
He said most of the materials were supplied by Lucia Kincheloe, Jefferson City Cultural Arts Foundation executive director. Amy Schroeder, community relations manager for Jefferson City's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, helped pick the child figurine designs at the top of the arch that show children doing various activities like riding a scooter, roller skating and throwing a football.
Thomas said the images were pulled off the internet, blown up with a projector and hand traced. The child figurines and "Greenway" sign are made of stainless steel.
While steel is more durable than aluminum, he said, the arch's longevity will be in that aluminum doesn't rust.
"We need a lot more career and tech people," he said, and he hopes the arch will inspire people to remember that.