BLOOMINGDALE - A surge in funding and oil and gas opportunities has led to some significant upgrades at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School.
An estimated $200,000 upgrade has been made in the first of several portions to modernize the classroom. Superintendent Dr. Todd Phillipson said the 1-mill levy that voters approved in November is definitely making a difference amid the acquisition of the new equipment.
"We're glad to be able to provide quality lab equipment to the students, and this was made possible with the passage of the 1-mill levy," he said. "We're sure this will help students to be successful through their participation in the welding program."
JEFFERSON COUNTY Joint Vocational School instructors Roger Hilty and Todd Parker get an overview of the new machines that were recently purchased for the welding class. Twenty-two new machines were installed and officials were trained on the items by Jonathan Will, industrial district manager and welding engineer for Miller Electric Manufacturing Company. Also pictured is Bob Boring, sales representative with Matheson Gas of Martins Ferry.
The levy, which passed in November, will generate $1.2 million annually over a seven-year period and instructor Todd Parker said funds have helped make efforts possible. There are presently 20 stations in the class and new machines have been installed to bring the site up-to-date. But more work is still in store.
"We will do the updates in phases. Everything needs to be tuned up," said Parker.
He and Instructor Roger Hilty, with the help of Parker's family members, spent the summer installing 22 new machines purchased from Miller Electric Manufacturing Company. Parker said changes by the Ohio Department of Education take effect this year which require courses to be taught like a college-level class, and the new machines will help meet the criteria.
"In the welding lab, we had to utilize every lab in every station and we had rotated students through four stations, but now we teach all of them one unit at a time in one semester. We have the ability to train students on multiple processes at once."
He said 40 people had shown interest in the program but officials could not support that number. As of now, 24 juniors and 18 seniors are participating. Parker commented that the school is also trying to keep up with the times, especially with the growing number of jobs in the oil and gas field. But he said the trade is quite flexible.
"We always try to be ahead of the curve. We knew this was coming and we're trying to phase it in," he said. "We had been preparing for two years but had to wait until the levy passed to do this."
Leaders said the levy's passage last fall, followed by voter approval of a half-mill levy in May, will help prepare today's students as tomorrow's workers. Meanwhile, the improvements come on the heels of growth within the oil and gas industry.
"The students will be better prepared to go into the field. Oil and gas has created interest take welding classes, and with welding a student can go in different directions," Parker added. "Carpenters and mechanics are also required to know welding. If a student is not sure where they will end up, welding is a good place to land. Taking welding at school could take them (into different careers)."
Located along County 22A near Bloomingdale, the Jefferson County JVS presently has 424 students enrolled in one of its 15 programs, including Auto Collision, Auto Service, Cosmetology, Early Childhood Education, Culinary Arts, Criminal Justice, Interactive Technology, Carpentry, Welding, Health Technologies, Electrical Trades, Power Mechanics, Computer Networking, Multimedia and Design and Transition to Work. Students attending the JVS come from associate schools in the surrounding area, including Buckeye Local, Toronto City, Harrison Hills, Steubenville City, Indian Creek, Catholic Central and Edison Local, as well as the Jefferson County Christian Academy and home schools. For more information, contact the JVS at (740) 264-5545.