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OTC grant allows for a new commercial tractor truck

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Posted: November 29, 2006 5:38 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2006 9:51 a.m.
    Some students at Ogeechee Technical College will soon have the opportunity to drive around in a new truck.
    Granted, it will be as part of a class and the truck won't be your typical pickup truck. Instead, it'll be commercial tractor truck used as part of OTC's Commercial Driving Program.
    The school received a grant for more than $85,000 for the new truck from USDA Rural Development, which was announced Wednesday morning.
    Wendell Morris, instructor for the program, said the new equipment would be extremely helpful for the students in the program as they prepare for a career.
    "With the industry changing as rapidly as it is, most companies are going to automatic transmissions like you have in your car," Morris said. "This truck will better prepare us and the students for what they'll face when the enter the work force."
    Stone Workman, state director for USDA Rural Development, which provided the grant, said students who graduate from the program would begin contributing to the local economy almost immediately upon completion.
    "This program trains 80 to 100 students a year and this vehicle will improve their road-readiness," Workman said.
    Morris said the students will still begin learning on the old nine-speed manual transmission and once they become proficient at that they'll proceed to the 10-speed automatic transmission.
    Morris also said they'll be able to spend more time critiquing other facets of the student's driving because they won't be so focused on shifting gears.
    In addition to the training, Morris said giving the students an opportunity to learn on an automatic would have a psychological impact on the students when they go to get a job.
    "When they go to take their road test, they'll have had experience in an automatic rather than doing it for the first time," he said.    "It helps out all the way around."
    "This new tractor is state-of-the-art and will help us give our students the kind of instruction we all depend on them receiving," said Dr. Randall Peters, interim president of Ogeechee Technical College.
    Peters also said the students who complete the program and get a job aren't only affecting their own lives, but the lives of their families because they're able to get a good-paying job.
    This is the second grant the program has received from USDA Rural Development in the past few years. During the 2005 fiscal year, the school received a $55,000 grant for a driving simulator.
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