Belmont County, Ohio (WTRF)-Those facing life behind bars could get a second chance in life. But not without a little help along the way.
7News Reporter Aliah Keller tells us what one program, backed by a large grant, is doing to change lives in a way that also gives the local economy a boost.
It all started with a $750,000 grant: part from the Appalachian Regional Commission, part from local sources. This grant is now in the hands of Belmont College. With it, they’re expanding one of their own programs that now ties into a local court system.
“Our HVAC program has grown phenomenally over the last several years.”Ed Mowrer, Energy Institute Manager at Belmont College
But, with a $750,000 grant, that heating ventilation and air conditioning program is about to change.
The program started years ago at Belmont College, but it quickly took off: from taking in 7 students to over 40. And it’s only just the beginning of expanding the program in other ways.
The training will also open up to drug offenders in the local court system.
“What we do at the courthouse is we help people that are addicted. We have them go through drug court, and if there is an opportunity to change their lives by getting them type of training, education, we indeed do that.”Judge Frank Fregiato, Belmont County
“Rather than going to jail, we can provide some training for them, so they can seek good employment.”Ed Mowrer, Energy Institute Manager at Belmont College
Belmont College’s Energy Institute Manager Ed Mowrer says this program equips students with basic plant maintenance skills. That includes maintaining higher level of janitorial skill type to maintaining equipment and even making electrical repairs.
But that’s not all.
It also teaches heating ventilation and air conditioning skills, like changing filters and working on equipment.
These are skills Mowrer says could help get those in drug court back on the job market.
And on top of that, he adds this program is also addressing the growing need for those skills in the local community that Belmont College can’t ignore.
“There has been a tremendous demand of HVAC techs in the area with the advent of the oil and gas boom about eight years ago. There’s just been a large demand for technicians. The dealers we’re working with are just crying for employers, and we’re trying to address that need.”Ed Mowrer, Energy Institute Manager at Belmont College
And in the meantime, the expansion for the program is still in the process of being finalized before it gets underway.