HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Celebrating a project that will provide workforce training to approximately 250 students over the next year, Wallace State Community College held an Open House and ribbon cutting for its Winston County Works initiative at Winston County Technical Center in Double Springs on Wednesday.
“Education is so vital to producing skilled workers in this state. In Alabama, we have the best workforce training programs and now we have the best workforce organizational structure for training people of any state in the country,” said Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley at the ceremony held at the Double Springs Middle School gymnasium. “This helps put Alabama in the forefront of workforce training. This project will help the people of this area. It’s just a small part as we begin to develop help for rural Alabama.”
Bentley was among the state and local dignitaries and educational leaders in attendance at the Open House along with Winston County Schools and Wallace State administrators, employees and students and community members.
The Winston County Works project was announced last fall with the intention of increasing employability in Winston County. The program provides short-term basic skills training to support industry-recognized certificates and credentials, facilitating employment opportunities for participants in high-growth and high-demand occupations in the automotive manufacturing industry.
Through a grant of nearly $750,000 through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and another $185,000 from the Alabama Legislature, the joint venture between Wallace State and the Winston County Board of Education will allow students the opportunity to earn certifications and training in classes like welding technology, commercial driver’s license (CDL), advanced manufacturing, machine tool technology and computer numerical control. Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to earn industry recognized certificates and credentials such as MSCC Certified Production Training credential for advanced manufacturing, and credentials from NATEF, AWS, NC3, OSHA and NIMS.
Winston County Works will continue to provide Adult Education classes in the area and aid high school students in the county as they pursue dual enrollment opportunities.
“Winston County is considered a distressed area by the ARC and residents who live here would disagree with the word ‘distressed’ because it’s a beautiful place to live. But’s distressed economically in terms of the availability of good paying jobs for its people and citizens,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics. “This project will serve at least 250 people in the next year from rural Winston County and they will be prepared when they finish to obtain a good-paying job that raises their quality of life here.”
Wallace State has enjoyed a presence in Winston County since 2012 with its Ready to Work program, providing basic and soft skills training for the workplace at multiple sites, including instruction within the local jails.
The Winston County Works project adds another exciting dimension for students in the area.
“Wallace State has already worked to make a difference in workforce development in Winston County, and this is going to make even more of a difference in the lives of people all over the county and state,” said Winston County Circuit Clerk J.D. Snoddy.
Added Elmo Robinson, the mayor of Double Springs: “Our city lost over 300 jobs over the last four years. The biggest problem we’ve had is bringing industry to Double Springs because we don’t have enough trained individuals. This program will hopefully pick up the pieces we’ve been missing and help us be able to recruit more industry for Double Springs.”
Additionally, Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman; Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley; Russ Rothamer, the Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer for the Alabama Community College System; Paul Housel, the District Field Director for Rep. Robert Aderholt; and Winston County Superintendent Greg Pendley each addressed the Open House crowd.
Also recognized by Dr. Karolewics were Sen. Greg Reid – R-Jasper and Rep. Mike Millican, R-Hamilton. She also thanked the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for being in attendance. ADECA administers grant funds for the ARC in Alabama.
A facility tour was also given during the Open House. Before his departure, Governor Bentley practiced on Wallace State’s virtual welding machine with instructor Jim Thompson. He reportedly did quite well.
“I’m so humbled and thankful to all who attended the Open House for the Winston County Works project. Thank you to the ARC for allowing Wallace State the opportunity to serve the Winston County community. Over the last two years, I have fallen in love with the community and its residents,” said Jamie Blackmon, the Winston County Works Director. “Governor Bentley’s presence at the Open House, along with all the elected officials who attended, reinforces the importance of what Wallace State is doing in Winston County, which is providing opportunities to pursue educational experiences and career skills within the local community. I hope that all the people who attend the Winston County Works program will leave with new life skills they can take into the workplace to be more successful in the pursuit of their goals.”
Classes begin in Winston County on Monday.
For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8443 direct
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu
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Wallace State Community College
801 Main Street NW | Hanceville, AL 35077
Office: 256.352.8118 | Cell: 256.339.2519 | Toll Free: 866.350.9722
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