SMCC hoping to offer training for linemen

A lineman works to restore the power grid in Gloster in the aftermath of Hurricane Delta.

Recent weather events make a proposed new program at Southwest Mississippi Community College valuable for citizens and power companies.

SMCC President Dr. Steve Bishop gained permission from the board of trustees to apply for the ability to offer a program to train electrical linemen.

SMCC needs approval from the State Board of Community and Junior Colleges, and “if it’s not approved, I’m going to have to ask those guys why,” Bishop said.

He said the program would be part of the career-technical education program given for credit, rather than a workforce training program.

“With the storms we’ve had lately, I think this is very important for us to offer,” Bishop said.

A number of powerful tornadoes have struck Southwest Mississippi in the past two years, requiring massive cleanup efforts and the restoration of utility poles and power lines to wide swaths of the area.

The latest storm to affect the area, Hurricane Delta, knocked out power to all or parts of Wilkinson, Amite, Franklin and Pike counties, with heavier effects farther west.

Bishop said damage on campus from the hurricane was limited to a few downed trees or limbs and a gutter.

“We didn’t lose power on campus,” he said.

In other business, board member Treva Reid of Wilkinson County said she had visited SMCC’s new center in Woodville, where a structural pipefitting program is being held.

“I was so proud to be able to see that,” Reid said, adding that truck driving and GED classes are also being held at the facility.

Bishop said he hoped to arrange a grand opening ceremony soon, and would try to have a school sign erected at the facility.

The board also:

• Heard from Bishop that the associate’s degree in nursing program was reaccredited and will not have a site visit again until 2028.

• Learned the SBCJC will conduct an Americans with Disabilities Act audit of the campus by the end of the year.

• Heard the board’s Christmas dinner will be held at the Workforce Training Center.

• Commended the soccer team for picking up trash on campus.

“All of our athletic teams try to do community service,” Bishop said. “Now they’re not in the community as much, so they’re putting in time on campus.”

• Applauded the awarding of plaques to Dr. Henry Lewis III, Bobby Nelson and Rev. Robert Vick Jr. for 10 years of service on the board, and to Jimmy Lowery for 30 years of service.

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