U.S. Sugar Helps School Mechanics Program

Students of the Clewiston Mechanics and Welding Programs join Instructors David Link and Mr. Domingo Mercado, Hendry County Superintendent Paul Puletti, U.S. Sugar employees; Natalia Bohorquez, Matt Kindermann, and Paul Boese.
Students of the Clewiston Mechanics and Welding Program join Instructors David Link and Domingo Mercado, Hendry County Superintendent Paul Puletti and U.S. Sugar employees; Natalia Bohorquez, Matt Kindermann, and Paul Boese.

Special to The Clewiston News

In an effort to meet a growing demand for skilled trades in our local workforce, Hendry County School Superintendent Paul Puletti announced that the county is proud to offer “Agriculture and Industrial Mechanics” to Hendry County residents.

“Thanks to U.S. Sugar’s generous donation of equipment, this mechanics program will lead successful students to many jobs that are in high demand in our local area,” Mr. Puletti said.

The new program is designed to provide basic mechanical knowledge used in farm fields and agricultural factories in our area. Students will now be able to learn through hands-on training how to repair diesel engines, hydraulics, electronics, gear boxes and sugarcane harvesters. The program takes 10 months and follows the school year, with the first class graduating this coming May.

Mr. Puletti said the program will be offered to adult education classes and as dual enrollment for high school students.

Mr. Puletti went on to say that local companies and farmers have been speaking to our students about employment opportunities.

“U.S. Sugar is excited to be a part of the new Clewiston mechanics program,” said Jennifer Black, U.S. Sugar Community Relations Manager. “This program is going to help our community, students and local residents in critically needed trade skills.”

Black said employees Paul Boese, Matthew Kindermann and Natalia Bohorquez organized and secured a sugarcane harvester, diesel engine, hydraulic parts and other equipment for the donation. During the donation presentation, each took time to explain specific aspects of mechanical training they seek in employees while interviewing candidates at U.S. Sugar.

While addressing the class and representatives from U.S. Sugar, Superintendent Paul Puletti stated this program has come to reality due to the strong public private partnerships in our area. If it were not for the support of U.S. Sugar, H.E. Hill Foundation and the Joseph Project, this program would not be possible today. Our local Career Source office is also a staple supporter in both mechanics and welding programs. In many cases some students were able to be completely funded.

If you would like more information about the mechanics or welding programs, contact Michael Swindle, Director of Workforce Development and Adult Education for Hendry County Schools, at 863-983-1511.

Local companies and local farmers already have been speaking to our students about employment. We are holding monthly seminars hosted by local businesses that help prepare our students for what those businesses are looking for in employees today. The seminars are combined with our welding school, which has become very popular and successful.

Superintendent Paul Puletti also pointed out both the welding and mechanics programs are successful due in part to the highly qualified instructors. In the welding program Mr. Davis Link brings over 30 years of experience in many welding applications. Mr. Domingo Mercado, a seasoned mechanic with training from Caterpillar, will teach the mechanics program.

According to US News, service technicians and mechanics held almost 740,000 jobs in 2014. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in this industry will expand 5 percent, between 2014 and 2024. With the Clewiston Mechanics Program, the students will be able to use the skills acquired toward a fulfilling and prosperous future.

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