Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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Governor at Madisonville Community College

Madisonville, KY – Governor Steve Beshear was at the Madisonville Community College Tuesday afternoon to present a $289,600 check to the Western Kentucky Workforce Investment Board to create an underground mine fire-fighting simulator site and to staff a fire brigade training program at Madisonville Community College.  The program will serve the coal mining industry in Western Kentucky.

Thirteen underground mines in the Western Kentucky area currently send employees to West Virginia for similar training.  The funds from Gov. Beshear's Workforce Investment Act Statewide Reserve will enable Madisonville Community College to  purchase equipment and renovate an existing training facility in order to deliver the highest quality underground mine fire training mandated by state and federal regulators.

Governor Beshear said, “Mining is critical to the economic well-being of Western Kentucky, and underground mine fire training is critical to the economic well-being of mine companies within the region.”  “This project fills a critical workforce development need for an industry that is a key contributor to the economic vitality of the region.”

Underground mine fires place lives in danger and cost companies millions of dollars in lost revenue.  The Mine Safety Technology and Training Commission recommended in a 2006 report that a particular
emphasis be placed on developing scenario training to improve the decision-making skills of fire brigade and first responder members.

With a recent increase in the need for miners, the Madisonville Community College has reactivated it's mining technology program.  The school has an existing mine simulation facility, The Brown Badgett Sr. Energy & Technology Center on the MCC campus, is being staffed to implement the new training program.  It be will be available to the employees of the over 40 underground mining operations in Western Kentucky, Southern Ill., and Southern Indiana – all within reasonably convenient driving distance to the college.

The Western Kentucky Workforce Investment Board covers the 17 westernmost counties of Kentucky that includes the Pennyrile and Purchase Area Development Districts.  Among this service area is the Western Kentucky Coal area.  The board has been very diligent in trying to find grant opportunities to support the local coal companies in the area.

Governor Beshear said, “The Western Kentucky Workforce Investment Board works hard to increase the training opportunities available in the area through strong partnerships with our community colleges.”  He said the training is a good example of the extra cost incurred by local companies to enhance the knowledge base of workers.  They have had to spend quite a bit to send trainees across the state or out of state for this essential training.  By bringing the training here, it will impact the coal companies and the state positively which is a direct return on investment.

Tim Moore - News Director
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Photos by:  Gary Gates and Marion Miller, iSurf News





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