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Grant Will Establish Welding Program At WVNCC

By Staff | Mar 16, 2011

Joining students at one of Northern’s computer labs are, standing from left, Wheeling Campus Dean Steve Woodburn; Dr. Mary Marockie, president of the WVNCC Foundation Board of Trustees; Community Foundation Director Susie Nelson; Dr. Martin J. Olshinsky, Northern’s president; and Mike Koon, vice president of Economic and Workforce Development.

The establishment of a welding program at the New Martinsville campus of West Virginia Northern Community College is one of the project supported by two grants totaling $84,000 from The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley to WVNCC.

The grants came after WVNCC decided to deepen its focus on education needs in the region. The Board of Trustees of the CFOV recently identified education as an important issue to address in the area and began working closely with West Virginia Northern to find suitable projects that will help improve aspects of the educational environment. “That partnership resulted in the two grants that will do much to aid Northern students,” according to Northern President Martin J. Olshinsky.

A grant in the amount of $40,000 will be used to fund a new Welding Program at the New Martinsville campus. The program will offer basic training in stick, TIG, and MIG welding. These welding skills are necessary to train a workforce to support the emerging Marcellus Shale industry in Wetzel County and beyond.

In addition to the welding units, the college will purchase ventilation units to properly vent fumes from the welding process. WVNCC’s new welding and ventilation units will be portable so they can be moved to an existing structure in Wetzel County for training. The portability also gives Northern the flexibility to offer the training at a variety of sites, if necessary.

Wetzel County currently has an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent, which is the fourth highest rate of all West Virginia counties. At the same time, natural gas producers are becoming extremely active in Wetzel County, with 290 Marcellus Shale permits from Wetzel County received by the state Department of Environmental Protection in the past year. Studies performed on the workforce needs of the gas industry indicate that the high priority occupations in the initial stages of production are deckhand, welder, and truck driver. Wetzel County lacks a career and technical center to prepare individuals who need the skills required for these jobs and WVNCC does not presently have the equipment or facility to offer this training. This grant will help the college meet this need in the region.

The second grant, for $44,000, will provide funds for computers for the WVNCC Middle College Early Entrance High School Program. Now in its second year, the Middle College program was initiated with the support of Brooke, Ohio, and Marshall County school districts serving 10th through 12th grades.

The program has assisted more than 50 students in reducing attendance issues and increasing grade point averages.

In its first year, the program reduced absenteeism by 466 days and increased average GPAs from 1.89 to 2.4. It was explained that all the students came to the program because they were drop-out prone for a variety of reasons. In addition, all students had deficiencies in math.

The grant will fund computers for the Middle College program and those computers also will be used for a math tutoring lab for current college level students at the Wheeling campus.

“We were very interested in finding a project that would make a large impact in the region that we serve,” Community Foundation Executive Director Susie Nelson said. “These two projects will help current high school students in need of extra support and will add a valuable workforce to the local economy.”

Dr. Mary Marockie, president of the WVNCC Foundation Board of Trustees, extended her thanks for the two grants. “We are gratified that the Community Foundation validated the needs at West Virginia Northern,” she said, adding, “Foundation Board trustees greatly value our partnership with the Community Foundation.” 

Nelson said the CFOV was able to make these grants from funds that have been set aside during the past two years. “Through careful spending and thoughtful investments, these funds were available to address a specific issue of need in the region,” she explained