State grant provides boost to central office installation program

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Build it and the money will come.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Build it and the money will come. State officials were in Ironton yesterday for the opening day of Telephony.Ed, a program that comes from a cooperative agreement between Collins Career Center and Ohio University Southern Campus, and they brought with them a check to offset the expense of opening the new facility.

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Governor Bob Taft has secured $146,000 in grants to support the program. The grant money, said Kevin Kellems, the Governor’s press secretary, comes from the Ohio Industrial Training Program administered by the Ohio Department of Development.

In a letter read at Monday’s ceremony, Taft wrote, "The Fiber Optic Training Center is an excellent example of how the Higher Skills program will directly benefit local communities. The partnership between Collins Career Center and Ohio University-Ironton has resulted in a facility specially designed to provide workers with the skilled training necessary to compete in today’s competitive business climate."

The new program in the county is reflective of the "Higher Skills Partnership Initiative" Taft discussed in the 2001 State of the State address. During the annual speech, Taft called for two-year and technical schools to reach an alignment with businesses so these schools can produce students that have the skills and knowledge needed to compete in today’s marketplace.

The marketplace the students graduating from Telephony.Ed, said Donnie Townsend, the program coordinator and instructor, is "wide-open" for well-trained and professional entry level workers.

Townsend said students will spend six weeks learning the skills necessary to begin a career in the telephony industry. The program will prepare students to enter the field of central office installation with various certification programs from industry names like 3M. Townsend said students will be exposed to "up-to-date equipment" used by technicians in the field. Townsend said the county’s program will be one of the "most comprehensive" programs offered in the nation.

Townsend said county, school and other local officials aren’t the only people excited about the program. He said leading manufacturers and companies in the telephony industry were contacted when the program’s curriculum was developed. He said the program is centered around the needs of the industry, which has created a stir among companies in the field.

He also said industry representatives will come to the school near the end of the program for a job fair that will introduce students to potential employers.

The 240-clock hour course started Monday, but Townsend said he can accept students until this Friday. Those interested in the program can contact Townsend at 1007 N. Second St. or call 534-9690.

The program costs $3,800, but includes a tool kit needed for the job which is valued at about $1,000. Townsend added a classroom capacity does apply.