Rhea welding school opens for training

Rhea welding school opens for training

May 19th, 2011 by By Kimberly McMillian/Correspondent in News

Chattanooga State instructor Bruce Green shows Mike Ricketts, dean of Technology Center at Chattanooga State, the new combination Lincoln welder in the students' cubicles at last week's ribbon cutting ceremony. The new welding school, which culminates the efforts of Dayton City and County officials, along with Suburban Manufacturing, Chattanooga State and state and local economic development agencies, opens in Dayton, Tenn., on Thursday. Photo by Kimberly McMillian


Contact Jerry Hendrix at the Chattanooga State office in Dayton at 423-365-5010.

DAYTON, Tenn. - Nearly 20 students will begin learning welding todayThursday, May 19 in Dayton when the local welding school opens for business.

Mike Ricketts, dean of the Technology Center at Chattanooga State Community College's Dayton campus, smiled as he called the school a "labor of love" at last week's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The welding school culminates more than two years of efforts by Chattanooga State, Suburban Manufacturing and officials from Dayton and Rhea County, along with local and state economic development agencies.

Officials said that Suburban Manufacturing donated the building, formerly the old National Guard Armory located on Broadway Street. Mayor Bob Vincent called the company "the white horse" that "came to the rescue."

The Southeast Tennessee Development Agency agreed to help pay for the nearly $140,000 needed for equipment.

Last week, Chattanooga State officials said the state agency had secured an estimated $104,000. New welders were installed into the cubicles for training, along with student desks and additional work stations.

Officials also announced last week that Bruce Green, an instructor for more than five years at Chattanooga State's main campus, will train the welding students. Green said the enrolled students included "a mixed bag" with and without previous welding experience.

He said he planned to identify the requirements for the American Welding Society's certification and equip the students with the "ability to pass those tests" which would help "prepare (them for) the work force in this community" and across the country.

Students will complete three semesters at a cost of nearly $1,000 per semester, said Ricketts. A lottery scholarship and grant money, similar to the Pell Grant, could help pay for up to 70 percent of the tuition, he said.

Beth Keylon, with the Career Centers in Dayton, said she and her fellow workers were trying to secure tuition money for students who complete an eligibility process. The money doesn't fall under traditional assistance because of the variability of requirements, some of which aren't necessarily related to income, she said.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net