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Iowa Lakes Welding Program Beneficial to Area Business and Industry

March 20, 2013

The Trustees of Iowa Lakes learned how area industries benefit from graduates of the college’s Welding program during their meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Tom Brotherton, Executive Dean of the Emmetsburg campus, introduced the Assistant Professor of the welding program, Steve Farnsworth, along with the welding lab assistant, Emily Gottsche. Brotherton highlighted the strong enrollments in the program as well as the need for qualified welders across the region.
Farnsworth and Gottsche outlined the tasks welders perform and shared that students are qualified in all aspects of welding upon completion of the one-year diploma. Students may also choose to achieve a certificate, although the majority of students work toward the diploma.  As competencies are reached in one area, each student then moves on to the next level.
The Iowa Lakes Welding program has been designated as an Educational Institution Member of the American Welding Society (AWS) – one of just two such programs in the state of Iowa.
Three students were also on hand to share their enthusiasm for the program – and its instructors. Caitlin Johnson of Emmetsburg told the Trustees that she loves welding and is pleased that there are plenty of good-paying jobs available. Michael Johnson of Estherville feels he has gained excellent skills and likes the hand-on skills he has learned. Brian Heithus of Milford shared that he lost his job when Stylecraft closed in Milford. He heard about the welding program from a friend and says that he is glad there is employment in a wide variety of careers near his hometown.
Because of the strong demand for competent welders, the lab space at the college is often in use. This week, Farnsworth and Gottsche are teaching 18 students for an Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities Gas Pipeline welding certification class.  Students attending are from Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.
Also during the meeting, the Trustees agreed to move ahead on a new swine facility for the College Farm Laboratory. Bids were received from four companies. The Trustees accepted the low bid which was submitted by New Modern Concepts of Iowa Falls for an amount of slightly more than $420,000.
After accepting the bid, Delaine Hiney, Executive Director of Facilities Management, reviewed data concerning the Sustainable Energy Resource Technology – or SERT – building located on the Estherville campus. Hiney reported that the drawings and specifications are completed.
The building, once renovated, will include a new lab for the proposed Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program; a lab for the college’s existing Environmental Studies as well as the new Water Quality program; and a location which could include robotics in the future. In addition, space would be available for NC3 and other training certifications for students and industry partners.  And, a ‘working at heights’ lab would be included along with ladder training and a turbine blade to train for confined spaces. The Trustees agreed to receive and open bids for the SERT facility on April 11 and then hold a public hearing at their next regular meeting.  The goal is to make the structure compliant with a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified Building.
The Trustees also discussed moving forward on Industrial New Jobs Training Certificates. The resolution directed the publication of notice on the proposed issuance of bonds not to exceed $975,000.
In other business, Mark Gruwell, Executive Dean of Instruction and Development, requested the Trustees to approve moving forward with a new program, Computer Gaming. The Trustees directed Gruwell to proceed with submitting an initial proposal for the program with the Iowa Department of Education. The Computer Gaming program would start in the Fall of 2013 on the Estherville campus and would provide students with programming and design skills within the context of gaming applications.
Bob L’Heureux, Vice President of Administration, talked with the Trustees about Room and Board Rates for the 2013-2014 college year. Rates will cost students $200 more per year for the combination of food service and housing. He also discussed that memberships at the Smith Wellness Center in Emmetsburg have remained the same since 2009.  Beginning May 1, those prices will increase.  L’Heureux reported the rates are still very reasonable when compared to other similar facilities.
Then, Brian Weuve, Finance Officer for the City of Spencer, spoke to the Trustees about a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) resolution. The Trustees approved a resolution allowing an extension of up to five years. The vote was required because it was an ‘extension’ of an existing TIF resolution in Spencer.
Jolene Rogers, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, consulted the Trustees about recent gifts. They accepted an agricultural diagnostic service tool from Abilene Machine which can be used on all brands of farm equipment.
And, Rogers reviewed the contributions to the College Farm Laboratory for the 2013 crop season totaling nearly $64,000. She thanked the corporate partners:  StateLine Cooperative, PRO Cooperative, MaxYield Cooperative, local Palo Alto County Seed Dealers (and Monsanto), Chad Anderson PIONEER, Spencer Agronomy Service and Tom Eischen Seed & Sales.
As a wrap-up to her presentation, Rogers pointed out that the deadline to apply for fall scholarships at Iowa Lakes is midnight April 1. Those interested may check the college website of where there is a direct link to the application process.
Finally, the Trustees heard reports from fellow board members.
The next meeting for the Trustees is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16, at the Emmetsburg campus of Iowa Lakes.  That meeting will be followed by a joint meeting with the Board members of Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8.
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