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DR. BETTY REYNARD — Lamar State gets you CDL certified, driving a truck for pay

When you pass them on the highway, you likely don’t pay much attention to the person sitting in the cab of an 18-wheeler, but you should.

The CDL drivers of the country haul essential goods that keep us safe, comfortable and well-fed. They deserve a lot of credit, which they seldom receive.

Driving a big truck, a school bus or a dump truck are critical, essential chores that keep the world moving forward.

Lamar State College Port Arthur has dedicated itself to be part of the process that keeps this machinery moving smoothly.

The CDL program at LSCPA has exploded both in scope of what it offers as well as in popularity. We are able to not only provide training to local students but also a place to test quickly for those seeking CDL credentials.

It is critical to help the transportation industry thrive in this time of COVID and Dr. Ben Stafford, director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education at LSCPA, is making sure that assistance is available.

According to a 2018 Trucking.org report, there were nearly 61,000 unfilled jobs for commercial drivers. In an effort to support Gov. Greg Abbott’s call to keep transportation vital, the College has provided training throughout the pandemic.

No cases of transmission have been recorded due to that face-to-face training because of the dedicated effort by faculty and staff to keep everyone safe.

But as critical as the training is for our region, so is the College’s ability to test once students have completed their coursework.

LSCPA is the region’s only third-party commercial driver examination facility providing CDL examination under the certification of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

What that means is that instead of waiting up to seven months for a DPS testing opportunity, LSCPA can test drivers instead. We’re the only ones able to do that within a 100-mile radius.

Simply … get trained, get tested, go to work.

A recent donation sanctioned by the Jefferson County Commissioners Court will make that experience even more rewarding.

With the contribution of nearly 24 acres, LSCPA has moved a step closer to realizing the construction of a dedicated CDL training facility. The acreage is located near the federal prison facility on U.S. 69 and would feature training and testing areas.

While Dr. Stafford seeks funding for this new construction, his department has already added another facet to its program that includes free training.

The Self-Sufficiency Grant covers three training programs that include CDL Class B dump truck and passenger bus training as well as scaffolding classes.

The goal is to provide additional support for our area’s petrochemical and other industrial firms to help satisfy their needs for drivers. That need is immense.

The grant will pay tuition for 30 students in each CDL class and 40 in the scaffolding program who are financially in need.

Students must have a dependent child under the age of 18 living in their home or be a non-custodial parent and, be at least one of the following:

  • A SNAP or TANF recipient
  • Be close to needing public assistance
  • Have a personal income of less than $37,000 a year

The opportunities exist for those wanting to train to earn a great living as a CDL-licensed driver. We’re here to help.

Contact Dr. Stafford’s office at 409-984-6354 or visit the Workforce Training webpage at www.lamarpa.edu/ce.

Dr. Betty Reynard is president of Lamar State College Port Arthur. She can be contacted at reynardbj@lamarpa.edu.