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McKeesport students put classroom skills to work for city

| Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 12:20 p.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Fire Capt. Jeff List watches sophomores David Rozboril Jr., Josh Steele and Tim Shoben at work.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
In the auto body shop at McKeesport Area Career and Technology Center, sohomores Bradley Kitchen and Josh Olsen spray primer on a mini fire truck their class is rehabilitating for McKeesport Fire Department.

McKeesport Area students are applying their shop skills to make over a mini fire truck for the city.

McKeesport Fire Department Capt. Jeff List brought a donated miniature engine to McKeesport Area Career and Technology Center when students returned from winter break.

The gas-powered golf cart, modified to look like an antique fire truck, has been a staple in city parades for a few years. At the end of 2013, the machine's owners donated it to the city because it was too hard to maintain.

“When we decided to pass this project along to McKeesport Area students, we knew there was a lot of work to be done,” List said. “The body was in bad shape. There was pitting in the metal, and there were paint flakes.”

Sophomore David Rozbril Jr., who has taken the lead on the project, said the mini truck was in “rough condition.” For four weeks, students have been removing plastic filler, replacing it, sanding it, priming the body and sanding even more.

“It's a tough job — a great learning experience though,” David said.

Classmates said the project is unique, and they like testing their skills on something they don't see every day.

“It's fun to work on, and it's challenging,” Josh Olsen said.

“It's going to be rewarding to see the outcome,” Josh Steele added.

Students estimate the project will be complete in early or mid-March.

List brought plywood to the shop on Wednesday that building and construction students will cut and auto body students will install as trim.

“I've been looking a lot at the truck's design,” David said. “It's all custom and hand-scuplted.”

Other finishing touches will include new paint and carpet to line the rear seating area.

“I couldn't be happier with their attention to detail,” List said.

Auto body instructor Bill Bain said having students repair the mini fire truck is a great way to show off the teens' talent.

“We're connecting the school and the community,” Bain said. “It's a wonderful way for the community to see what our kids can do. They can see where their tax dollars are going.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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