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Brownfields grads head to the workforce

When Nye County commissioners voted June 19, 2013 to implement a revolving loan fund centered around a $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, they allotted almost $200,000 of it to NyE Communities Coalition to fund the Brownfields Workforce Training Program.

The classes were staged into three groups of students over the past six months for 157 hours of training for each set of classes. The classes began in August 2013 and the final class graduated with a ceremony and reunion of all the Brownfields students on Friday at NyECC.

The classes are designed to provide unemployed or under-employed students the broad array of skills and professional certifications necessary to enter the environmental remediation market. The students had the opportunity to obtain a total of eight state and federal certifications in safety and hazardous materials handling.

The training included asbestos abatement, bloodborne pathogens, CPR, first aid and the use of Automated External Defibrillators. Certificates were also earned for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, lead-based paint abatement, OSHA 10 for construction, OSHA confined space entry and readiness workshops to help the students obtain employment.

Education Director Tim Wigchers said, “We brought back all the students for this celebration and graduation and 130 attended.”

He said 65 Pahrump residents completed the 157 hours and earned the certifications in safety and hazardous material handling and response.

Festivities included two letters read by Nye County Manager Pam Webster. One, was from Congressman Steven Horsford congratulating Nye County, participating students and NyECC, and the other from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco, Calif., both congratulating the graduates and thanking them for their commitment to the educational program.

Two guest speakers, Nye County Commissioners Butch Borasky and Frank Carbone addressed the graduates.

In addition, the students had the opportunity to share their experience.

After the 90-minute presentation, everyone had a light lunch topped off with cake.

Students taking the classes had to meet guidelines as well. They had to be Nevada residents, be 18 or older, have a high-school diploma or GED, be physically able to participate and the important thing — be willing to commit to being on time and attend every class.

Wigchers said. “Not everyone who applied could take the class. We go through an interview process and try to determine who is truly interested and will commit to get something out of it.”

He said about 20 percent of the graduates have already found work. “NyECC Career Connections will be working with all of the program graduates as they move from training into the workforce. Our goal is to assist with job placement and we anticipate a high percentage of graduates will find employment.”

The schooling has a value of $2,500 to those participating. The classes are free.

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