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Truck driver school launched

Dec. 10, 2012 @ 11:21 PM

SOUTH POINT -- Jeff Lynn had a steady paycheck for 32 years until he had to close Lynn's Sporting Goods in Ironton earlier this year.

"I've been working all my life," Lynn, an Ironton resident, said Monday. "Now I'm 52 and looking at a career change. I can't stand being unemployed. It's driving me crazy."

Lynn is among eight people who started the new truck driving academy program Monday at the Ohio Strategic Training Center at the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce offices at 216 Collins Drive, South Point.

The training center is a non-profit arm of the Lawrence Economic Development Center, said Scott Howard, executive director. The four-week program is being offered in a partnership with the Southern State Community College truck driving academy in Hillsboro, Ohio, Howard said.

"There's a real need for truck drivers with a commercial driver's license," Howard said. "We would rather see people in this area be trained and qualify for these jobs. This program allows them to get trained closer to home."

The training center started Aug. 1 and is located at the chamber offices in South Point. The truck driving academy is the first program it has offered, Howard said. A second class to get a commercial drivers license will be offered in January. That eight-week course will be offered on the weekends, he said. "We'll continue to offer courses as long as there's a need."

It was the first day of classes for the new program Monday, Lynn said.

"I hope this course provides opportunities," he said. "You'll always need truck drivers to move goods from one place to another. It will give me options. I could go on to college and get a logistics management degree. I already know about sales and management. This is something different, new and exciting."

Julie Pace, a Coal Grove resident, was among the eight students. She worked as a conductor and engineer for CSX for 14 years before becoming a dislocated worker. "The coal industry has really slacked off," she said. "I've been working with the Workforce Development Center in Ironton. They have a job that needs a CDL. I hope I can get into a management position. I have worked away from home before when I was with the railroad."

Truck drivers can earn $45,000 to $55,000 per year, officials said.

Anyone interested in participating in future classes can contact Howard at (740) 377-4550.

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