The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office received a refurbished Humvee from students at the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center last week that might be driven through rough terrain to eradicate marijuana in the county.
But before they turned it over to deputies, the students made sure they left a unique mark on the vehicle. The Humvee is almost entirely covered in black, with the exception of four metal hubcaps in the shape of a skull that contains the school’s initials.
Seniors Zach Gibson, Janika Straits and Brian Hayslip completed most of the work as part of their senior project. But they had help on the hubcaps from Olajawan Pittman, a junior at the school who is skilled in welding.
The vehicle could be used for a number of purposes, including driving through rough terrain so deputies can locate remote sites where marijuana is grown, Champaign County Sheriff Matt Melvin said. When deputies search for marijuana plants now, it often means deputies have to get to the site on foot.
“We’ve been in places we can’t get vehicles before,” Melvin said.
The sheriff’s office received the vehicle at no cost from a military surplus site, but it needed basic upgrades like new windows and a paint job. The project was a good fit for the three seniors, who jumped at the chance to work on a Humvee, said Dick Ater, auto body instructor at the school.
The project took months of work, and the finishing touches weren’t complete until last week. Straits supervised much of the work, while Gibson and Hayslip performed tasks like sanding the vehicle down and replacing parts like windows and lights.
“We were just putting on the finishing touches, making it look pretty,” Straits said.
The students also received English credit for the project, researching the vehicle and putting together a PowerPoint presentation to explain the work they’d completed. They also learned how to organize and complete a relatively complicated task and make sure they met a tight deadline, Ater said.
In many cases, students don’t always get to see the end result of their work, Ater said. But in this case, they got to hand the Humvee off to the sheriff’s office.
Melvin said he was grateful the students took on the project. While his staff may add some radio equipment and paid for the paint, the vehicle and repairs basically came at no cost to taxpayers, Melvin said.
“The only thing we have in it is the paint,” he said.