York Institute, TCAT Oneida/ Huntsville Receive $50,000 USDA Grant for New Welding Equipment

A special ceremony and reception was held on Thursday, September 12, at Alvin C. York Institute in Jamestown as the school accepted a $50,000 grant from USDA Rural Development for the purchase of new welding equipment. This new equipment will allow the TCAT  dual-enrollment welding program at YAI to expand and offer full welding certification for interested students.

“We’re excited about this grant to help buy equipment and expand this program,” said USDA Tennessee Rural Development Director Jim Tracy. “Hopefully this will help Fentress County increase its workforce. If you want industry to come into an area, some of the first things they will ask are ‘what kind of education system do you have, and what kind of workforce do you have?’ We know that we have to start developing that workforce in rural areas early, and we hope to use this program as an example across the state.”

TCAT has offered dual enrollement welding courses at York Institute for fourteen years, and the program has seen a great deal of success, with both state and national welding competition winners  graduating from YAI and TCAT Oneida/Huntsville in recent years.

“We have a really strong welding program here at York Institute, and what this grant will do is allow students, after they graduate, to continue towards their welding certificate right here at York. It’s going to be huge for Fentress County,” said TCAT Oneida/Huntsville Director Dwight Murphy. Murphy said that one of the first steps will be to restart the night welding classes at YAI, which he said should begin very soon.

Both Tracy and Murphy alluded to further projects in regards to technical education in Fentress County being in the works. “This is the first step in opening up more opportunities  in Fentress County,” said Murphy “We want to offer a certificate in Farm Production here, and we want to look at EMT and CNA classes in the near future. We believe that the way to make the economy stronger here is to offer more educational opportunities.”

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