MEENON––The County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Tim D’Jock, Executive Director of SOFTEC last week.
SOFTEC Education Inc. partnered with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), the Burnett County government, and local businesses to provide a local space for students to learn practical skills that are in demand with businesses such as McNally Industries, the Nexen Group, Monarch Paving, and Division 8 Products.
They received a $30,000 grant from the county earlier this year and applied for grants to match the amount that came from the Burnett County Economic Development Community Investment Fund.
D’Jock gave a number of details about the program. The heavy equipment program lasts five-six weeks, and, thanks to the grants, there is no cost to the students. It utilizes a CAT simulator with classes held at their location directly across from the Government Center on Highway 35.
Their first set of graduates included four people in recovery for substance abuse and five with felony charges on their criminal record.
“We are picking people up from the bottom and helping them,” D’Jock told the board last week. In the spring they held their first graduation and even though only 9 of the 10 graduates attended the ceremony there was over 100 friends and family in the room celebrating the occasion.
“We are helping out 10-15 family members along with the graduate,” he added.
D’Jock said after five weeks in the program some graduates are earning $38.50 an hour before benefits and he hopes to have most graduates earning between $70,000 and $100,000.
“We are thinking about long term success right now,” D’Jock said. “I hope the board will continue to support us in the future.”
The Board also heard a presentation from Susan Lockwood of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. Lockwood is the Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and New Richmond Campus Administrator for WITC. She had some data on Burnett County students attending WITC.
According to Lockwood, 520 county residents are enrolled in WITC programs, they offer over 80 different programs, with 306 attending the campus in New Richmond and 209 in Rice Lake.
WITC also offers classes online. Over the summer there was a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) course held and Lockwood said they are working hard to bring that course back.
Supervisor Chris Sybers asked about the course because it was a very popular course.
In other items:
The county held their public hearing on the budget. There were no comments from the public. The 2020 budget is $28,643,379 with a levy of $10.2 million.