By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

Theyll be dressing up the ranch by 2001.

Bar-O Boys Ranch will begin construction of a new school facility and extensive remodeling of the existing recreation hall, dining room, laundry and administration areas by December this year, according to Director Al Smith.

Well be completed within five months of our startup date, he said.

The construction will be paid for by a nearly $1 million grant from the California Department of Corrections.

The grant selection was a competitive process, pitting Del Norte County against several other small, rural areas.

Phase One of the project will be the construction of a new school facility. Because of the expense of building a new structure, the ranch is looking to use high-quality, pre-constructed modular buildings, which will be set into a foundation at the ranch.

The existing school facilities will then be gutted and used as a dining area with a fully-equipped kitchen.

The kitchen would also be used for the ranchs culinary arts program, in which students learn restaurant-style cooking, Smith said.

The new kitchen and dining area will accommodate more than 75 people.

Currently, Bar-O can hold up to 40.

It will provide the opportunity to increase capacity in the future if we choose to go in that direction, Smith said.

The existing dining facilities will be expanded into the recreation hall, through the demolition of a dividing wall.

The increase in recreational area will allow more boys to remain indoors during the winter.

In addition, remodeling the dining hall will create more space for administrative offices.

The laundry facility will also be remodeled.

The project has been sent out to bid once, but the lowest bid was more than $300,000 over budget.

The Board of Supervisors has now rejected all bids and is currently negotiating with the lowest bidder. The ranch will attempt to cut costs where possible by using the boys as a labor force, according to Smith.

This is the first extensive remodel of the ranch since the 1960s Smith said.

Im very excited, he said. Its been a long time coming.