State of the art: BRCC holds ribbon cutting for Westside Campus on Tenant Road

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
Shown at the BRCC Westside campus ribbon cutting are, from left, Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr., Parish Council Member Henry “Buckett” Scott, School Board Member Yolanda Laws, School Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne, Jr., Steve Smith of LCTCS Facilities Corp and Board of Supervisors; Steven Toups, BRCC Chancellor Dr. Andrea Miller, Dean Dr. Kay McDaniel, Dow Louisiana Operations Leader Eduardo do Val, La. Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink, White Castle Alderwoman Barbara O'Bear and Parish Council Member Edwin Reeves.

PLAQUEMINE - A crowd of more than 100 people welcomed the opening of the new Baton Rouge Community College Westside Campus during its ribbon-cutting on Sept. 19.

The festive atmosphere was due to the new opportunities that the facility brings for local residents to get the training needed to land high-paying jobs.

The 15,547 square feet facility at 25250 Tenant Road behind Plaquemine Senior High School now offers a new industrial maintenance program, which provides certifications in crafts sought after by the chemical industry – electrical, instrumentation, millwright, pipefitting and welding, taught.

Students completing the certifications will be able to start at jobs making $25 per hour plus benefits. LPN, medical assistant and certified nursing assistant courses are also offered at the campus.

The facility has a value of some $5 million, with the state providing $3 million and The Dow Chemical Co. donating $1 million to construction.

Former Senator Robert Marionneaux and State Rep. Karen St. Germain were instrumental in obtaining state funding for the new facility.

The Iberville School Board donated the land for the facility, Iberville Parish government provided the sewer and water infrastructure and a bridge between Plaquemine Senior High School and the new campus to encourage dual-enrollment classes for PSHS students, and the City of Plaquemine provided needed water for fire protection to the site.

In addition, Dow has donated some $500,000 in equipment for the industrial maintenance program.

Dr. Kay McDaniel, Vice Chancellor of Technical Education, noted that "many obstacles and challenges" were overcome in its construction, and it is now a "state-of-the-art, world-class facility. It exists because of many great partnerships," she noted.

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said "training is the key" for local residents. "People come to me looking for opportunities at the local plants, and this facility will provide the training they need to get those jobs." Ourso praised the agencies that "stepped up to the plate" and made the new campus a reality and Dow for its donations and support of the facility. "For our kids not going on to college, they can come here, get the training and get good, high paying jobs. Our plants need welders, electricians, millwrights… once they have this training, I will be glad to call the plants to get them jobs," he said.

Dow Louisiana Operations Site Director Eduardo Do Val noted that Dow just announced a $1 billion expansion of its Plaquemine site, and it is exciting that Dow also has played a role in making sure local people would have a tremendous opportunity to get the education to work for Dow or with any of the chemical companies along the river.

"When we (Dow) announced our 1.06 billion expansion, we also made a commitment to growing our workforce in Plaquemine," Do Val said. "Our investment in BRCC is a great way to offer local people the training required to assume manufacturing and engineering jobs right here at Louisiana Operations."

Steven Toups, representing Dr. Joe May, president of the Community College system, noted, "Now there shouldn't be a kid in the community that wants a job that can't get one."