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2008 August 12 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Okla. Urged To Create Wind Power Training Programs

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma educators should be creating programs to train people to become turbine technicians as more wind power opportunities come to the state, a Texas energy official says.

The more than 12,000 megawatts of potential wind power and thousands of turbines needed to generate it could lead to manufacturing jobs, such as the construction of poles, turbines and blades, but officials see a need for technicians to work on those wind turbines.

Ned Ross, director of regulatory affairs in the state for FPL Energy in Texas, said his company has struggled to find such workers.

Ross predicted the problem would become more acute as another 11,000 megawatts of wind power comes on line soon, joining the state’s existing 6,000 megawatts.

“It’s a relatively new business, and what we have been doing to meet our need is to retrain oil and natural gas professionals who have been looking for career changes,’’ Ross said.

The utility also has worked with Texas’ two-year college system to put together turbine technician programs, Ross said, adding that Oklahoma should develop similar training programs.

The programs could offer the possibility of jobs in rural areas and the work is steadier than what the oil and gas industry offers, Ross noted.

“They’ve gladly accepted these positions,’’ he said. “The jobs give them a way to live and stay in their small towns and make a good living.’’

State officials say the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates the development of wind power will support 141,400 construction jobs and 395,800 operations, maintenance and manufacturing jobs as part of a $48 billion economy in the Southwest Power Pool an eight-state region including Oklahoma between 2007 and 2030.

Department of Commerce officials recognize it and are planning strategies to capture Oklahoma’s share, they said.

Part of the agency’s work involves Oklahoma’s CareerTech system, and colleges and universities, to create programs to train industry-certified wind energy technicians and research and development workers.

“Probably, training is going to be one of the big issues. We need to train technicians certified to work on these towers, and then Oklahoma needs to give them incentives to keep them in Oklahoma,”’ said LaVern Phillips, director of Woodward’s industrial foundation.

  • Iowa College, Fired Professor Reach Settlement

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Southwestern Community College has reached a financial settlement with a professor who was fired after telling students the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be taken literally.

Steve Bitterman taught world civilization at the college. He was fired last September after students complained. Bitterman later sued for wrongful termination.

Patrick Smith, the school’s lawyer, did not disclose the amount of that settlement.

Bitterman’s lawyer, Brad Schroeder, says academic freedom should have outweighed religious concerns.

“What was for him a purely objective, academic exercise in studying the religious beliefs of different western civilizations became a group of fundamentalist students taking exception when it came time for their God to be put under the microscope,’’ Schroeder said today.

Bitterman’s case received widespread attention. He garnered support from the American Humanist Association, which says that people who eschew organized religion can lead ethical lives and contribute to the greater good. 

Bitterman taught on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in Norfolk, Va., this summer through Central Texas College’s Instructor At Sea program for sailors. He said he used the same textbook from his previous classes.

  • Tenn. Mayors Want Free Community College

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The county mayors at Knoxville and Memphis say their residents should be able to attend community colleges for free.

Mayors A.C. Wharton of Shelby County and Mike Ragsdale of Knox County say they hope to arrange for such tuition-free education by building on scholarships and grants already available to community college students across the state.

The mayors say they’re still working on details, looking for potential sources of money and trying to get officials in nearby counties to join them.

The idea is to put together a new tuition program through the Tennessee Urban Mayors Forum, a group recently formed by Ragsdale and Wharton to address problems particular to the state’s more populous counties.

  • Wyoming College Commissions Mustang Sculpture

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) — A life-size bronze sculpture of a mustang will greet students at Western Wyoming Community College next year.

Trustees at the college in Rock Springs recently signed off on the proposed sculpture.

Western Wyoming Community College has a mustang for its mascot.

Installation of the sculpture will be one of the school’s 50th anniversary events in 2009.  

  • Resort Golf Course Donated To Maryland    College

BERLIN, Md. (AP) — Wor-Wic Community College is renovating the Ocean Resort Golf Club, which was given to the school after its owners could not find a buyer.

College officials say they expect to have the course in Berlin open this summer.

 In addition to golf, the course will also be used for turf management, horticulture and hospitality classes in the future.

College officials say they are spending about $300,000 to improve the course, which will remain open to the public.

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