WNCC plans indoor powerline training facility

For the Farmer

ALLIANCE, Neb. – Western Nebraska Community College’s Powerline Construction and Maintenance Technology program is getting an upgrade.

The Western Community College Area Board of Governors, at its regular February meeting, approved construction of an indoor training facility for the Powerline Construction and Maintenance program in Alliance. The project has a budget of $800,000. The facility will be located on property leased from the City of Alliance. The project, which required consent from the City of Alliance, was approved by the Alliance City Council at its regular meeting on March 6.

“I’m just very, very excited that not only the Board of Governors, but the college itself is saying it’s committed to this program,” WNCC Powerline Instructor Edward Salazar said. “It says they’re willing to upgrade and improve so that we can provide the best training for our students, to ensure their success. That is what is important to me.”

Completion of the project is expected by Labor Day.

The new indoor training facility will be located directly east of the current WNCC Powerline training area in Alliance. The ceiling of the building will be about 50 feet tall, while the main training area will be 105 feet by 80 feet. Plus, the arena’s floor will be dirt to allow poles to be set and removed.

Salazar said the new facility will allow more instructional consistency in the program. As it is now, students are limited to theory work inside during inclement weather. 

With the new facility, however, Salazar will be able to integrate theory work and training more efficiently throughout the year.

“If I’m trying to teach these students correctly, I wouldn’t want to give them the disadvantage of worrying about the wind blowing 30 miles per hour, or the temperature being minus 20 degrees with wind chill,” Salazar said. “Then I’d just be asking for trouble.”

Salazar also expects the new facility to boost enrollment in WNCC’s Powerline program.

“I think it is going to be beneficial to us years down the line on being able to attract students to our particular program,” he said.

Funds have been raised specifically for the indoor training facility as a part of the workforce success initiative of the WNCC Foundation’s recent comprehensive campaign. 

During the WNCC Works: Expanding the Possibilities campaign, the WNCC Foundation worked alongside active advisory committees, which consisted of industry leaders, to identify areas of need within the community. Workforce, and specifically training students to enter the high-skilled job market, was recognized as a priority in the panhandle.

“Specifically what the campaign is trying to address is the retiring workforce, as well as keeping skilled workers in the region, and putting funds toward programs that are really meeting that need,” said Kristin Wiebe, major gift and planned giving officer for the WNCC Foundation.

“I’m excited to work with the Foundation and watch these industry partnerships continue to come together,” said WNCC Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Reisig. “The partnership WNCC’s programs have within our community is not only exciting, but also essential for our local economic development.”

Video News