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Starting in February, students and adult learners will be taking courses in welding from Oregon Coast Community College, thanks to a partnership with the Port of Toledo, Northwest Oregon Works and the Lincoln County School District.

The programs will kick off with grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremonies at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29, in Toledo, and at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, at Taft 7-12. The Toledo ribbon cutting will also feature the presentation of a financial contribution to the program from Georgia-Pacific.

The first classes are full, thanks to online registration forms that have been posted for months on the College website.

“We have far more interested students than we have space for this first class of 20 students,” said Dan Lara, OCCC’s Chief Academic Officer. “We still have a long list of folks who have expressed interest in the welding program, and we hope to offer them the chance to register for welding classes in the Fall or later next academic year. The response to this program has been amazing.”

The Port of Toledo was the lead applicant in a $261,285 Maritime Administration Small Shipyard Grant Application to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That grant, secured in June 2019, was critical in launching this welding program.

“Since I arrived at the College in 2014, I have heard from industry and community about the need for welding and maritime workforce training,” said Dr. Birgitte Ryslinge, OCCC President. “Through this private-public collaboration we start building, rather than importing, our future maritime-industrial workforce. This means high-skilled, high-wage jobs for Lincoln County residents, and boosts our collective economy.

“It is truly wonderful to be among such collaborative and forward-thinking leaders here in Lincoln County. We can’t wait to see our future welders practicing in the Shipyard Vocational Training Lab.”

Port Manager Bud Shoemake at the port of Toledo said they are particularly excited about what this project means to the coastal community of Lincoln County.

“This year we partnered with the Lincoln County School District and had high school students from both Waldport and Toledo working as interns in our shipyard,” said Shoemake, who spearheaded the grant-writing effort. “These schools both have industrial programs which have allowed their students to progress into the internship. The vocational welding lab will provide students at the other high schools in Lincoln County the same opportunity to participate in industrial training.

“Partnering with OCCC opens the program to everyone else in the county. The welding lab, adjacent to our shipyard, will provide students with practical shipyard welding experience.”

The same time the program gets rolling in Toledo, the College will begin teaching welding classes at Taft High School, thanks to funding support from the District. The welding courses will be available to both community members and high school students from within Lincoln County.

“The Lincoln County School District is committed to partnering with Oregon Coast Community College and local industry partners in using its High School Success funds and resources to expand career and technical education programs to support students and workforce development for our communities and families,” said Dr. Karen Gray, LCSD Superintendent, after the grant was secured in June. “We are already appreciative of the Port of Toledo’s efforts to provide our students with on-the-job training and experience and look forward to the expansion of our partnership.”

The Toledo ribbon cutting will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the new OCCC Welding Laboratory at the Port of Toledo, 625 NW Bay Road. The Lincoln City ribbon cutting will start at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31 at Taft High School, 3780 SE Spyglass Ridge. For more information, call 541-867-8501.

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