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High schoolers building new boat slips coming to Green Bay marina

Posted at 7:01 PM, May 30, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — The latest job for the students in the Bay Link Manufacturing program at West High School is constructing new boat docks to be installed at South Bay Marina in Green Bay.

  • McDonald Companies, which owns the marina, and the City of Green Bay received $1.2 million of federal grant money via the Wisconsin DNR for the project, to address the issue of lack of slips for visiting boaters
  • McDonald Companies president Chip McDonald says the program is a "win-win-win," as his company gets lower logistics costs for the docks, the City of Green Bay can boost tourism numbers with more slips, and the students get real-world experience and job opportunities
  • Around 20 high school juniors and seniors from around Green Bay Area Public Schools take the manufacturing class each year
  • The instructor of the program says he hopes his classes will complete 40 new boat slips for transient boaters in the next two years
  • Video shows welding in action at West High School and aerial views of the site of the new boating slips

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The marina gets plenty of labor, and high school students get real-world experience.

We're at South Bay Marina — where education brings opportunities and improvements to the harbor here at the Bay of Green Bay.

The work starts here at West High School, with students like Jake Kaster.

"One angle iron to the other, and it fuses them together, making it one piece of metal, pretty much," Kaster says as he works.

Jake is one of around 20 students working each year at bay link manufacturing, the student company building new docks for the South Bay Marina.

"It's really nice to learn the skills because I want to go into welding as a career path," Kaster, a junior, said. "So it's nice to learn the skills early."

This steel frame will be the middle piece of docks like this one at the marina.

"Concrete on top, floats on the bottom — and that creates the dock structure," McDonald said.

Owner Chip McDonald is happy to cut down on logistics costs.

"It's a really hard product to ship, so we significantly decrease the cost, being able to invest more into the docks and the local community with the grant funding," McDonald said.

McDonald and the City of Green Bay got a $1.2 million grant to build about 40 new boat slips — which they say will bring fishing tournaments and tourism dollars.

"We're very fortunate to be centered in the largest freshwater estuary in the world," Mayor Eric Genrich said, "and so offering people access to that incredible resource is a real priority of ours."

For the students building the dock — their teacher says it also means job offers.

"All my students are highly coveted," instructor Andy Belongia said. "I could get them all jobs right now if they want them. My students are sought after in the community."

Belongia says if the students are able to build each dock piece in about two weeks, they'll be able to get the 40 slips done and ready to go in two years or less.