Sutton provides commission with LBW workforce update

Published 9:15 am Friday, March 15, 2024

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The Covington County Commission heard a presentation from LBW Community College Director of Workforce Development Chad Sutton and discussed four additional items at a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 12.

LBWCC currently offers CDL training in Class A and Class B at the Covington Center Arena. According to Sutton, the college is changing the face of the workforce.

“Without use of the arena, we would not have been able to help over 180 people become licensed in the last 16 months. There are new programs out there called Skills for Success that are short-term training to get people ready for the workplace. They are designed to take 30 to 60 days of onboarding away from the employer, and all of these programs were developed by the industry. We are getting a lot of credentialed individuals, and it would not happen without the partnership of the county,” Sutton said.

All trainings conducted through LBWCC are free to attend.

“The State Legislatures have put aside some money for workforce development and continue to do so in their budgets. We are reimbursed by putting these trainings on, and they do not cost the student a dime. Right now, we have over 300 people in the system going through the process. These people are going to have a credential to take them to the next level of being sustainable for their family, jobs, or whatever instances they may be involved in. That is because of a partnership with the Covington County Commission,” he said.

Other programs LBW offers include school bus training, heavy equipment, and a fiber optic technician course. Sutton said LBW has been able to license over 40 school bus drivers in the last six months.

“This is an area in which schools to this day will tell you they don’t have enough bus drivers. We are able to help them with training for free as a result of partnering with the county. With heavy equipment, we have put on skid steer, bulldozer, and excavator training with our local school systems. By the end of March, we will have trained over 400 students in heavy equipment. Congratulations to Red Level High School on completing Covington County’s first high school fiber optic technician course. It is wonderful to see the engagement and enthusiasm when a new skill is developed,” Sutton said.

He added that Kolya Barton at Andalusia High School was the first high school student in the state of Alabama to complete all three components of heavy equipment.

“He is super excited, and his wheels are turning. We have made him aware of all the opportunities out there. The benefits are going to come down the road as these students and young people continue to grow. We have plans to begin an electrical class in the future, and LBW is number two in the state with all of these enrollments behind Calhoun Community College,” he said.

Covington Area Transit System Director Tami Baxley gave the commission an update on two CATS vans that were recently delivered. Although four transit vans were purchased, the two vans did not meet the county’s specifications and were declared as surplus.

“We are awaiting on the proper paperwork to be completed and have been requested by ALDOT to title those two vehicles. Once that is completed, we will take those two vehicles back to Montgomery and finalize a transaction of selling them to Fayetteville. We want these vans but cannot use them,” Baxley said. “I need it on record that we are going to surplus them. While they were not used, we still have titles on them,” Administrator Karen Sowell added.

Covington County EMA Director Susan Harris stated March, April, and May is the peak season for tornadoes.

“We are letting everyone know that now is the time to be prepared. If you need help or seek information for your families or businesses, come see us,” Harris said.

Revenue Commissioner Chuck Patterson addressed the commission with an update in regards to unpaid tax collections.

“We are at $500,000 in uncollected taxes, which is about 850 parcels. We are good and will keep working at it to have an online tax sale in May,” Patterson said.

In other business:

  • The commission discussed a resolution for IAC recommendations that included moving funds from the ARPA account to the general account.
  • The commission rejected two bids for the construction of an awning at the entrance of the county administration building, which came in significantly higher than the architects’ estimates.
  • The commission approved awarding a bid for seed and fertilizer to Andalusia Farmers Co-op. This bid will be effective from March 13 until Sept. 13, 2024.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, March 26, at 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.