Stops scheduled for Lodgepole, Chappell Monday

SIDNEY -- Western Nebraska Community College officials are making a return tour of Panhandle communities.

Interim President John Marrin and college staff met with several communities throughout the service area in the spring of 2022 as part of a listening tour, an opportunity to learn what people want from the college. College representatives are now in an effort of presenting their findings to residents, and presenting plans for moving forward.

"We really did listen," Marrin said. "Believe me. We learned tons."

He said the 2022 tour showed people want more career and technical education (CTE) programs, especially in trades and lifelong learning. He said WNCC representatives met people who said they didn't think of WNCC when making a secondary education decision because they didn't know what WNCC offers.

Marrin said the 2022 tour identified housing as a significant need. WNCC's role would be instructional; contractors will still be needed.

He said WNCC is focused on starting the construction trades program in April. The college is still seeking part-time instructors, and students. The program will start with an introductory class that teaches skills as basic as reading a tape measure and moving into specifics of carpentry, electricity, plumbing and HVAC.

"There is such a legacy of heavy trades in Sidney. We need to get back to that," he said.

He added that the Sidney campus is offering a nursing program, but still can't meet the need of the local nursing shortage.

Marrin said the Scottsbluff campus of WNCC has been serving students since the 1920s, and the Sidney campus since the mid-1960s. He said that with that much history, sometimes it is necessary to step back and review where you're at.

Topics from the 2022 Spring listening tour include Issues Confront Communities, Ways WNCC can better support communities, Observations/Recommendations for WNCC, Kudos and Barriers.

The tour will be visiting Lodgepole and Chappell Monday. The Lodgepole stop will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wildeflower Bakery and in Chappell 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Buffalo Creek Coffee, 657 2nd St.; refreshments provided

Additional stops include Sioux County (Harrison) on March 31; Box Butte County (Alliance) on April 5; Grant County (Hyannis) on April 12; Cherry County (Cody) on April 17; Sheridan County (Gordon) on April 21; Dawes County (Chadron) on April 24; Garden County (Oshkosh) on April 26; and Kimball County (Kimball) on May 3.