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They've got the skills

March 09, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

* Apprentice carpenters, plumbers, electricians, repairmen and a sheet metal worker showed off their skills for a chance to win prizes and a trip to a national competition.

Between apprentice and journeyman stands the local skills competition.

Saturday, about 20 budding carpenters, plumbers, electricians, heating/air conditioning repairmen and a sheet metal worker competed in the 2000 Associated Builders and Contractors Local Skills Olympic Competition.

The competition is one of the last steps in a four-year journeyman program, which also includes twice-weekly classes. It is also a chance for the students to show off their skills and win prizes, with the top student winning the right to compete in the national competition May 31-June 3 in Baltimore.

Michael Franse, 49, of Hagerstown, won first place in the heating/air conditioning competition and was the overall winner at Saturday's competition, held at the Washington County Technical High School. Franse has worked 27 years for Zeigler/Mechanical Electrical Contractors in Hagerstown, according to a competition organizer.

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John Kneisly, who won the carpentry competition, said the program and the contest have been well worth his time and effort, in which he built a small-scale wall with a door and partial staircase.

"It really put me to the test," said Kneisly, 27.

"It helped me fine-tune a lot of things, like steps and rafters," he said.

"I learned a lot from (the program)," he said. "And it's already paid off."

Since starting the program, Kneisly has risen from laborer to carpenter to lead man at his job with Minghini's General Contractors, near Martinsburg, W.Va.

Electrical competition winner Jeremy Suffecool, 21, of Clear Spring, said the program and competition "look good on a resume."

"It shows you care about your trade," said Suffecool, who works for Shives Electrical Service in Clear Spring.

Jacob Rodenhaver, who works for A.D. Naylor in Oakland, Md., won the plumbing competition.

Brian Thomas, who works for Air-Row Sheet Metal in Martinsburg, won the sheet metal competition.

The first place winners in each category won tools donated by D&M Outdoor Power & Equipment in Waynesboro, Pa. Runners-up were awarded gift certificates.

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