FARMINGTON — San Juan College board members on Tuesday night approved a recommendation for a contractor to construct the $15 million School of Energy building, opening the way for a groundbreaking ceremony later this month.

During the Tuesday night board meeting, board members approved a notice of intent to hire Jaynes Corporation as the design/build contractor.

The company will work with the Dekker/Perich/Sabatini architecture firm on the design and construction of the estimated 52,000-square-foot-building to be built near the northeast corner of the main campus, located near the intersection of Piñon Hills and College boulevards.

Russ Litke, the college's vice president for administrative services, said there will be a 15-day period in which other companies that bid on the project can ask questions and formally protest the selection, if they want.

The contract could come back for final consideration at the board's Nov. 5 meeting, said Frank Cole, the college's director of purchasing.

Steve Biernacki, senior director of the college's physical plant, said the design/build project style uses a single contractor for design and construction services. There are benefits to the approach compared to the standard design, bid, build project style in which an architect is hired and then bids are sought for an construction company, he said.

"There are certain benefits to that, such as building a project quicker in a shorter time period, and they should also be able to build it more economically," Biernacki said.

Cole said this will allow the architects to work on schematics, while the construction team is working on preparing the site. The Health and Human Performance Center on the main campus was built using this approach.

Dean of the School of Energy Randy Pacheco said he thinks it's a dream for the community to have a school of energy in Farmington that leads education and instruction for the oil and gas industry.

"I don't think it has really set in that we are getting close to a groundbreaking," Pacheco said. "It's been a long journey."

Pacheco said he is eager to start working on final plans for the building, which will be based on concept drawings commissioned earlier this year.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the School of Energy building will take place at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 17 in the parking lot of the Quality Center for Business.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.