The Starke County Chamber of Commerce will soon have a new executive director. Debbie Mix is leaving after seven years in that position to pursue a new career opportunity. Continue reading
Anyone in need of a coat this winter will have a chance to get one for free tomorrow. The Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning has been organizing a coat drive for the past few weeks, and tomorrow, they’ll be handing them out. Continue reading
A new event at the Yellowstone Trail Festival looks to honor automotive history, while giving welders and artists the chance to showcase their work. Festival events director Juanita Ketcham says organizers are planning a first-of-its-kind re-purposed sculpture contest. Continue reading
The Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning is being recognized by NIPSCO for its efforts in strengthening local communities in the area of education. SCILL is one of five recipients of the fifth annual NIPSCO Luminary Awards being presented this evening in Merrillville. Continue reading
The SCILL Center is once again holding their winter clothing drive after collecting hundreds of coats, gloves, scarves and other winter clothing last year to be distributed to those in need of warm clothes last year. Jerry Gurrado, the coordinator of student services and programs at the SCILL Center, told WKVI that they are currently collecting articles but what they are most in need of are distribution sites.
The SCILL Center vocational welding students are diligently working to improve on their new trade, and Executive Director Jerry Gurrado explained that 10 of the 16 vocational welding students have earned their certifications – something Gurrado said he’s very thrilled about. The students are currently about six months ahead in their training and Gurrado attributed their success in their studies to instructor Andy Odle.
For those interested in picking up a new skill, the SCILL Center is now taking applications for their next adult welding class, which Executive Director Jerry Gurrado said is right around the corner. The class kicks off on May 6, and Gurrado said that the local WorkOne office has already received a number of applications. Applications can be obtained by calling the SCILL Center or WorkOne, and Gurrado strongly encourages everyone to contact WorkOne to take advantage of training dollars available to lessen the expense.
The House of Representatives recently passed a bill seeking to make it easier for high school students to find high-wage, high-demand jobs through career, vocational, and technical educational opportunities, but one area vocational director has his concerns about the bill.
Governor Mike Pence hailed the passage of the Indiana Works Councils Bill, which he said demonstrates the commitment of Hoosiers to make career and vocational education a priority in every high school. The bill integrates local and state resources by creating regional Indiana Works Councils with membership including representation from employers and educators.
The SCILL Center announced this week that in the short time since they became a GED testing site and held their first test on Oct. 27, they’ve had four more test sessions with 27 people seeking their GEDs. Executive Director Jerry Gurrado explained the next test is Feb. 6 and 7 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the SCILL Center, and registration is required ahead of time.
Welding students in the SCILL Center’s vocational welding program will soon be traveling from the classroom to internship programs, as several of the students will begin their internships at local businesses within the next week. Director Jerry Gurrado said that he wasn’t expecting any of the students to take any kind of certification test until around April, but he has already seen three high school students obtain their first certification.
The SCILL Center has announced one of its proudest accomplishments to date: Director Jerry Gurrado said that 10 of the 10 students that enrolled in the adult welding class have received their American Welding Society certificates. While the national average is somewhere between 47 and 52 percent, Gurrado said the center is currently boasting a 100 percent average of those who completed the course and went on to receive their certification.
The SCILL Center in cooperation with Vincennes University hosted an open house yesterday evening at the Knox Middle School for their welding program. Director Jerry Gurrado was quick to decline any credit for the program; rather, Gurrado said it was an unbelievable cooperative effort that made the welding program a possibility.
Gurrado explained that an overwhelming number of organizations and businesses came together to bring the welding program to life. The Starke County Economic Development Foundation, the welding subcommittee, the superintendents of area schools, the Vocational Co-Op, SCILL board members, the Center for Workforce Innovation – the list goes on and on. Even Vincennes University helped to make the program a success, as the provided not only a day instructor, but also a night instructor and textbooks for the course. The Starke County Commissioners played a role; KVREMC, NIPSCO, and factories like Sabre, Kruze, Galbreath, Braun, and countless others helped shape the welding program.
It may be warmer than usual for November, but that doesn’t mean bitter winter weather is far. In light of that, the SCILL Center is extending their coat drive through the second week of December to allow more coats to be donated for those in need throughout the area.
SCILL Center Director Jerry Gurrado said that they set a record last year with 751 coats collected, despite the fact that it was a mild winter. Because a number of coats had been left over, the SCILL Center gave the extra coats to local churches for distribution. Gurrado said it would be fantastic to have that overwhelming support again this year, but he’s got his concerns.
The SCILL Center is staying busy, and this week they’re kicking off their Commercial Driver’s License classes. SCILL Center Director Jerry Gurrado said the six-week program will assist those who are interested in earning their CDL, with two weeks of in-classroom learning followed by two weeks of truck operation. The final two weeks, Gurrado explained, would consist of learning on the road.
The SCILL Center is definitely staying busy with events planned throughout the end of the year. This week, the center is hosting a Food For Friends Car Care Clinic, which Director Jerry Gurrado said serves a double purpose: it raises money for the Starke County Food Pantry and gives drivers the chance to have their vehicle checked out for free!
“It’s actually a pretty unique and very neat situation, where you can come in here to the SCILL Center any time between 8 o’clock and 4 p.m., central time, we put a diagnostic on your vehicle, run a complete check-up, we’ll top off the fluids, we’ll give you a checklist of whatever the necessity might be. And then you get the option of taking it to wherever your own dealership or garage is,” explained Gurrado.
During their meeting this week, the Knox Community School Board spotlighted the welding program. The newly-designed program is being taught in the Knox Middle School.
Superintendent A.J. Gappa said Jerry Gurrado from the SCILL Center gave a report on the program which is getting off to a good start.
The SCILL Center auto tech class is in full swing, with more than 50 kids taking the class split between morning and afternoon sessions. SCILL Center Director Jerry Gurrado says their enrollment is up this year from roughly 40 kids last year, but that’s not the only good news coming from the center.
Gurrado says they’ve also begun their welding vocational classes with a full enrollment. He says the class started on Aug. 14, and boasts a total of 16 students for its first year. On Sept. 10, the welding lab will host adult welding classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, which Gurrado says will ultimately end with a certification test for the students. Gurrado says this is a very important class, as there is an acute need for welders in this area, the immediate surrounding area, and nationally.
Knox Mayor Rick Chambers has announced the employment of a new Water Superintendent for the city. Todd Gardner has been chosen and he has been the maintenance man for the LaVille School for the past five years and before that he was employed in the Maintenance Department at Ancilla College. He replaces Gordon Burger who has retired from the position. He has all of the proper licenses.
Knox Community School Superintendent A.J. Gappa has been meeting with representatives from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation, Jerry Hollenbaugh, North Central Area Vocational Director, and Jerry Gurrado, Director of the SCILL Center in Knox. Superintendent Gappa told the Knox Community School Board that the group has been meeting to coordinate welding classes to be conducted at the Knox Middle School.
“With just a little bit of work, our former wood shop in the Middle School could be converted to a welding class area,” said Superintendent Gappa. “What I was asking the Board was permission to continue those talks and the Board seemed pretty excited about the idea themselves. This could be a win-win, not only for the school, but for community and the businesses in the area because people learn how to weld, they would become employable and they could improve their skills in the places they do work. This is just our opportunity to work with the business community and the Economic Development Foundation.”
There’s some exciting news from the SCILL Center in Starke County. SCILL Center Director Jerry Gurrado is announcing plans to help provide GED courses, and make the center a testing site.
Part of the mission of the SCILL Center is to provide training for Starke County’s work force, and many times if prospective workers don’t have a high school diploma or GED certificate they can’t qualify for employment. Gurrado explained that a nearby GED test site would greatly benefit Starke County residents.
“We’re working very closely with the two GED centers here in Starke County to expand that program. We’ll very definitely market it better so more people know when it is and where it is and help make it available, and then most importantly from the SCILL Center point of view, we’re going to be a test site. So it saves Starke County residents from having to go to Valparaiso to take their test or, in some cases, you may complete your GED training and it’s maybe three weeks before you can get a test time in order to be able to take it, so we’re going to be able to offer that service,” said Gurrado.