GLASGOW — It's full steam ahead for the latest program offered at the Barren County Area Technology Center.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday to celebrate the ATC's diesel mechanics program, which came to fruition as part of the expansion and upgrades to the facility footed through a $6.84 million Work Ready Skills Initiative grant and matching funds. Barren County ATC is partnering with South Central Kentucky Community and Technical College to offer the diesel program.
Such facilities and programs are giving students the opportunity to learn applicable skills that will help them find gainful employment in the years to come, said Mike Nemes, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Workforce and Development Cabinet. He credited Gov. Matt Bevin for having a vision of bringing business, workforce development and education leaders together to meet the needs of Kentucky industries by allotting funding for facilities such as the Barren County ATC.
"This is a fantastic place," Nemes said shortly before the ribbon was cut. "For years, industry was saying 'you're not teaching the students what we need. We're having to retrain them.' So we're rethinking it all the way from the universities to kindergarten."
Nemes encouraged the students who were in attendance to take advantage of the high-quality programs the Barren County ATC offers.
Barren County Schools Superintendent Bo Matthews thanked local and state officials, construction manager Tommy Gumm of Alliance Corp. and the design team that helped bring the latest addition to the ATC.
"All of these people have had a hand in making today possible," he said.
Matthews also dedicated much of his time before the ribbon-cutting to thanking local educators and school staff who made the pitch for garnering the state funding. The reason why so many worked so hard to secure the funds needed to renovate and update the Barren County ATC was because they knew the programs would be beneficial for local students, he continued.
"We look back at that work, that time and that energy that was put into this plan, and today we celebrate. And today we look forward and we keep dreaming," Matthews said.
Ashley Burd, principal of the Barren County ATC, said the grant went to more than just renovation, but also supplied over $3 million in new equipment and technology for all the programs offered at the facility on the Barren County High School campus.
"We're honored and grateful to be the second-largest recipient in the state of Kentucky for this grant," she said.
Specifically of the latest program, Burd said stakeholders, community members and educators realized there was a need for diesel mechanics training in Glasgow and Barren County.
"We're here to serve and meet those needs," she said.