Career Center board in period of adjustment

Personnel changes and new laws made for a 2014 Washington County Career Center board that looked a bit different at the group’s first meeting of the year Tuesday evening, as the directors and superintendent spent the time discussing short-term plans and current achievements of the Career Center to new board members.

Larry Holdren, representative of the Ohio Valley ESC Board, was appointed president. Neil Huck of Wolf Creek Local Schools was appointed vice president.

New faces and other changes were brought about from a combination of new state laws that both added and removed certain board member requirements.

An Ohio law imposed as part of the state’s biennial budget bill created the requirement that board members for the career center must have some type of business experience, a requirement that ended in the departure of Karen Burton of Marietta Local and Johnna Zalmanek of Fort Frye Local. For the new year, Burton was replaced by Marietta Local Board Vice President Wendy Myers. Zalmanek was replaced by new Fort Frye Board President Charlie Schilling. Because the law also eliminated the requirement for a Career Center board member to also serve on their host school’s board, Rod Hineman of Belpre City and Jeff Lauer of Frontier Local remain after ending their service with their respective districts’ boards.

Directors Dave Combs and Mike Elliott updated the board on recent and future plans for the Career Center.

In collaboration with Pioneer Pipe Group and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, the school has created a pilot welding program that serves as an apprenticeship program for a field in high demand currently.

“Requests we’ve had for welders, even though they’re still in high school, it’s grown,” said Elliott, the school’s secondary director. “We want to be part of the supplying of that local labor force for the Mid-Ohio Valley.”

The Career Center has also relaunched its HPAC/HVAC program, and with the current high demand for workers in oil and gas, it caught on quickly.

“We have 15 students in there, and we’re full at this time,” said Combs, Career Center director for adult education. “It’s a local need as well as a national one.”

In addition, Board Treasurer Joseph Crone reported that because of declining interest rates from the past five years, the “sizable revenue stream” the school receives in interest income from five local banks will see a reduction of approximately $120,000, starting in February.

Crone said the school administration has prepared for the decrease in its forecasting plan.