The Western Nebraska Community College Board of Governors gave its stamp of approval for the college to continue creating a diesel, truck and heavy equipment program.
Before the board gave its unanimous support, Dean of Instruction & Workforce Development Charlie Gregory presented an outline of the program, detailing program specifics.
The demand for the program was two-fold, Gregory said. For one, Gregory’s presentation listed seven businesses, such as Aulick and 21st Century Equipment, who’ve expressed a desire to see the program exist.
Gregory also presented an informal survey that said 32 high school students in the area were already involved in career and technical programs at their high school. In the survey, they indicated “significant interest” in the program.
Earlier this year, WNCC officially ended an applied agriculture program, with the idea that much of that program would be absorbed into a diesel, truck and heavy equipment program.
While other programs, such as the journalism program, were cut from the school budget this year because they failed to garner enough students, the ag program had an opposite problem. Gregory said the college couldn’t find an instructor after the program instructor resigned.
While researching whether or not to continue the program, Gregory said WNCC hosted several roundtables to discover the needs of regional employers. Those roundtables determined that agribusiness — or the business of production, processing and distribution of agricultural products — was something area employers needed in the area. He said the roundtables suggested those aspects were more critical now than ever before.
Last month, the board approved a lease with Aulick for a place to host the program.
The lease states that WNCC will pay Aulick, a trailer manufacturer in Scottsbluff, a yearly payment of $31,680, for the land. The monthly rent is $2,640, according to the lease. Aulick will then in-turn donate the rent money to the college foundation — making the lease an essentially rent-free agreement.
The program still has to be approved by the Higher Learning Commission, Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education and the Department of Education. The college is hoping to have the program up and running by August 2021.