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Companies aim to enhance skilled market
Gift of semis builds career center program

SSCC Truck Donations

Cummins Engine and Crum Trucking donated two semis to SCC. The SCC board members gathered for the picture: front row, left, Steve Mackey of Cummins, Dr. Jeff Hendrix, Mike Jones, Dr. Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger, Dr. Leanna Phillippe, Cheryll Obendorf of Eco15, Sally Morris, RCCF; back row, left, Brad Street, Karl Galey, Greg Lamb, Dr. Jim Roberts, Stephen Telfer, Dr. Terry Sargent, Steve Patz, Dr. John Mehrle and Rob Moorhead.

Mary Mattingly

Southeastern Career Center received a very large bonus recently. It came in the form of two semi trucks donated by two area trucking companies, one that makes diesel engines and another in the truck transportation business.

Cummins Inc. with corporate headquarters in nearby Columbus, and Crum Trucking, Inc., in Batesville, gave the 1995 and 2001 semis to be used in the diesel engine program. Both vehicles are considered “road worthy” with life left in them. They replace two 1979 trucks at the center, and the newer models will give students a better understanding of fuel injection and more up-to-date diesel technology. Cummins has supported SCC’s needs for recent engine technology by replacing outdated lab purpose engines.
Steve Mackey, human resources learning and development leader with Cummins, was happy to present the truck on behalf of the company at the SCC monthly board meeting Aug. 14.

Mackey and Cheryll Obendorf, project manager for the Ripley County Community Foundation’s EcO15 initiative, have partnered together to improve and upgrade the diesel technology program. They have visited other diesel related businesses asking for letters of endorsement and/or equipment donations to support the expansion of SCC’s program. Crum came through on both accounts.

Cummins wants to grow a pool of talent for their needs and the region as well and finds SCC to be a great resource to do so. “We are helping to put better trained graduates in the regional work force,” Mackey commented.

A PowerPoint presentation was given about the partnership with SCC and regional businesses to help elevate the diesel tech program. Mackey added that “the most difficult position to fill is mechanical engineering technician.” On average, Cummins has hired eight diesel technicians per quarter since 2010, and currently has seven openings, and six for entry level diesel technicians. Mackey said they hired two SCC seniors in June as entry-level diesel technicians, in what are considered “well paying jobs.”

Cummins has high hopes for recent graduates, Jakub Kozisek of Jennings County, who placed first in the State Skills USA competition for diesel technology and Joe Wenning, a 2013 Jac-Cen-Del graduate, who placed 8th in the regional competition at Vincennes University.

Also, three SCC seniors have been placed in Cummins’ school-to-work summer internship program in the tech center, continuing to work part time during the current school year, earning credit and wages as they go to school.

“This is the only diesel program within Region 9 and one with quality content,” Mackey said. “I believe this is where it starts.”

SCC diesel technology students earn dual credit through Vincennes University while taking high school classes. Once employed, the company also will help with tuition assistance of up to $7,000 per year.
The program support came on the heels of a visit last week by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to Batesville. He emphasized the need to boost the state’s manufacturing skills and training, noting just one percent graduate with a core technical degree.

Mackey said the need for these skilled diesel technicians and mechanics will continue, mentioning the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a 15 percent growth rate between 2010-2020. Brad Street, director of SCC, encouraged the other school superintendents, to let school counselors know about the program and future job potential, and to steer students with aptitude and interest in this field. “Enrollment is on an increase,” Street said. They had 52 students in 2011, 80 students in 2012, with 20 on the waiting list, and for 2013, have 83, with five on the waiting list.

‘Beardos’ coming to Friendship for music

Mary Mattingly

A bunch of guys with beards who know music will be bringing 36 bands to Ripley County this weekend. Actually, the beards won’t be as plentiful or as lush as the music.

Whispering Beard Folk Festival started in 2008 on a farm in Ohio, with the idea to bring friends together to strum, pick, sing and share music. Matt “ Katfish” Williams, one of the “beardos” and founder of the festival, said 250 people initially came to hear eight bands. They moved it to a Northern Kentucky farm, but kept searching for the right place; nothing corporate, somewhere big and open, where they could feel comfortable.

“We fell in love with the place. We met once with the people, and they were amazing, and that was it,” Williams said. “It’s just made for it.” Actually, it’s build up for the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association annual shoots and flea market, but the town can hold other events like this as well.

This is the third year the festival will be held in Friendship’s Old Mill Campground. They expect to increase the town’s population by 2,000 for the weekend. Already, 300 campsites are booked, but they could accommodate another 500 if need be. It’s not on the scope of large national outdoor festivals like Tennessee’s four-day Bonnaroo or Chicago’s Lollapalooza, but it’s got the same feel with lots of music, lots of people, all outside, and, it’s more family friendly.

“What sets this apart from those big festivals is we have just two stages and there will never be one act playing while another is on,” Williams said.

Williams doesn’t like to label or pigeon-hole the music. Yes, it says folk in the title, but it’s got rock, bluegrass, new grass, country, new jam grass, Americana, and alternative groups. “This is music that means something, non-pop music,” Williams explained.

The headliner Friday is Jason Isbell, who is a mix of country and rock, with a new album at No. 19 on Billboard. He was with Drive-by Truckers before he tried this solo route. Saturday’s headline act is Dead Man Winter, which plays Americana rock, from Minnesota. The musicians are as diverse as the music. Isbell is from California, Blind Boy Paxton from New York, The Tillers, a Cincinnati group that has two people in it from southeast Indiana, to name a few.

Besides the music, the festival will have 25 artisans and vendors, and a “Big Kids Village” with a circus troupe featuring stilt walkers, jugglers, games and more. Various foods from the region, such as Cincinnati’s Eli’s BBQ, oven-baked pizza from Aurora and Jugheads Grub from Madison will be part of the offerings.

And just how did they come up with the unique name? The emcee, who was from Chicago, noticed they had to turn on a road near Whispering Farm, and when he saw the guy’s weak beards, he joked it was “a whisper of a beard."

Pick up this week's edition of The Versailles Republican for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Ticket information and more about the Whispering Beard Folk Festival
• Campsites filling up for Labor Day weekend
• Regional Wrap-up


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