Jeff State Clanton officially opens CDL program track

Published 3:23 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Jefferson State Community College celebrated the completion of the Commercial Driver’s License program track at the Chilton-Clanton campus with a ribbon cutting on Sept. 28.

Several of those who spoke mentioned the partnerships that had made the track possible, including industry, governmental and community leaders.

“The very mission of our system and our institution is to … address the workforce needs of the community,” Guin Robinson, JSCC dean of economic development, said. “I can think of no greater example than what we are going to dedicate today in doing that.”

JSCC president Keith Brown said he and Robinson had met with about 60 businesses about being a part of supporting the program, and each of them said that CDL was a program that JSCC needed to offer. Some key partners for the program included the city of Clanton, the Alabama Community College System through workforce grants to complete the track, the Appalachian Regional Commission through a grant to cover tuition costs for the first 48 students, Central 6 Regional Workforce Council through providing a CDL simulator, Trenholm State Community College through donation of a rig to the program, Weil Wrecker through donation of a trailer and Chris Stricklin with Dunn University.

Robinson called Stricklin “our greatest cheerleader externally, that we do not pay.”

“On behalf of Dunn Companies and every industry partner that will benefit from this program, thank you very much,” Stricklin said.

He said the program will fill a need in the industry and is a picture of the “innovative future of how we are going to train the next generation of the workforce” to make “an incredible livable wage with career progression pathways.”

Discussion about offering the program at the Clanton campus began 3-5 years ago.

“It took dedication and persistence” of the JSCC personnel to make it happen, Brown said. He recognized director of workforce education Leah Bigbee and program training coordinator Alex Blevins for their contributions.

“This has been a long time coming,” Mayor Jeff Mims said. “… Everybody you talk to, its not just a few, everybody that you talk to needs workers, needs employees and for us to get them trained it takes things like this.”

The mayor mentioned that the city will continue to support these efforts. The city has begun discussing the possibility of developing a training area for heavy equipment operators and diesel mechanic training on land it has adjacent to the JSCC Clanton campus.

Mark Colson of the Alabama Trucking Association said the association “is proud to be a strong partner” to the college and programs like this one. He also spoke to the importance of the quality instructors in the program.

“We need more high-quality truck drivers,” he said. “We need to think about trucking as a career path because there are wonderful jobs out there, wonderful companies out there. People can be an entrepreneur in that space as well … I am proud to say today that Jeff State is all about high quality whether it be the truck driver program or any of their other for credit or noncredit programs.”

Some members of the inaugural class of the CDL program attended the ceremony.