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HCC earns $1.6 million boost for trucking

October 25, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Community College thinks it has a solution to help ease a shortage of commercial truck drivers in the Tri-State area.

The U.S. Department of Labor thinks so, too, and showed its support in the form of a $1.6 million grant.

HCC officials announced the grant at a press conference Monday at the College Center.

"There is a huge shortage nationally," said Tammy Smith, HCC commercial vehicle transportation project manager. "It's a critical transportation shortage for the area for commercial drivers."

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said in a written statement that the grant will allow HCC to boost its commercial transportation enrollment by 50 percent.

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With the grant, HCC plans over the next three years to expand its Commercial Vehicle Transportation program. The goal is to graduate more students who are eligible for a commercial license or who plan to become managers in the field.

"HCC's ability to expand the commercial vehicle transportation program has been limited by a lack of facilities, equipment and staff," HCC President Guy Altieri said in a written statement. "This grant will allow HCC to increase its capacity and, therefore, its graduates."

The federal money will allow HCC to create an associate's degree program in transportation management, hire additional commercial vehicle transportation staff and create more classroom space.

"Classroom instruction is delivered in an old, narrow modular building that barely seats three adults in a row," according to the grant proposal. "Faculty 'offices' are in an adjacent, even smaller trailer. A 'port-a-pot' provides bathroom facilities, but no running water."

Plans include working with Washington County Public Schools to develop a high school transportation program at Williamsport High School, boosting recruiting efforts and purchasing equipment like a driving simulator.

HCC was one of 70 community colleges to receive the grant, which Altieri said was the largest in school history.

The Department of Labor, which awarded $125 million in grants to schools in 40 states, received 388 grant applications, according to a statement.

Since 1995, when HCC introduced the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Class A training, more than 700 students have graduated. Ninety-eight percent passed the state examination and 95 percent have been hired, according to the grant proposal.

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