East Mississippi Community College Heavy Civil Construction instructor Carlton Ray Hollis, Sr., at left, gives student Tammy Warren pointers on the operation of a dozer used in the program. Appalachian Regional Commission grant funds will be used to purchase additional equipment for the program.

February 10, 2021

East Mississippi Community College’s Workforce and Community Services division has been awarded a $300,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant that will be used to purchase two semitrucks, a heavy-equipment trailer and a training simulator to support division programs on EMCC’s Golden Triangle and Scooba campuses.

The ARC is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments, of which Mississippi is a member. ARC uses congressionally appropriated funds to invest in economic and community development projects in 420 counties across the Appalachian region.

“We are very grateful for the ARC’s continuing support,” EMCC Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development Dr. Courtney Taylor said. “The ARC was instrumental in helping fund construction of The Communiversity and further support through grants like this allows us to diversify our programs to ensure we are meeting the local demand for skilled employees. Our residents benefit through increased wages while boosting the regional economy and promoting economic development.”

One of the semitrucks to be purchased with the grant funds will be used on EMCC’s Golden Triangle campus to train students enrolled in the Commercial Truck Driving program. The other semitruck will be housed at the college’s Scooba campus for use in a Commercial Truck Driving course to be offered there, as well as in the Utility Lineworker Technology program.

In addition to receiving certification in pole climbing, forklift operation and OSHA safety training, students in the Utility Lineworker program also receive instruction needed to earn a Class A CDL, or commercial driver’s license.

“Utility co-ops and places that hire Lineworker graduates want them to have their CDLs because they have some big trucks and during an emergency situation they want them to be able to drive anything they have, including pole trucks,” program instructor Chuck Cotton said.

The grant funds will also be used to purchase a training simulator for a Heavy Civil Construction program that will be offered at EMCC’s Scooba campus in the fall. Two simulators are already in use at The Communiversity, where the Heavy Civil Construction program was launched this spring.West Point resident Tammy Warren is enrolled in the Heavy Civil Construction course at The Communiversity at East Mississippi Community College. Here, Warren trains on a simulator used in the program, which has received Appalachian Regional Commission grant funds to purchase additional instructional equipment.

“The job prospects in the field are good,” program instructor Carlton Ray Hollis, Sr., said. “There is a lot of road construction going on and new subdivisions being built.”

Among other things, the 12-week noncredit program teaches students to operate heavy equipment used on road and bridge projects and at construction sites. A dozer and an excavator used at The Communiversity to train Heavy Civil Construction students will be also be used on the Scooba campus once the program there is operational.

Part of the grant funds will be used to purchase a lowboy trailer to teach participants how to load and unload heavy equipment and to transport the equipment between campuses.

West Point resident Tammy Warren is one of two females enrolled in the inaugural class for the Heavy Civil Construction program at The Communversity. Warren said she spent most of her adult life working in an office setting performing secretarial, bookkeeping, human resources and payroll duties.

She said she always wanted to operate heavy equipment though.

“One of the things that attracted me was the prospect of operating equipment that powerful,” Warren said. “Also, I love being outdoors.”

The two simulators at The Communiversity have the same controls as those found on the real dozer and excavator used in the program. Hollis said students must first learn to operate the simulators and undergo OSHA safety training before graduating to instruction on the heavy equipment.

“This is all about teaching them to safely operate the equipment,” Hollis said.

For more information on any of the programs, email workforce@eastms.edu or call 662.243.1803.