SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
With his employment roots grounded in construction, Daniel Bacon was compelled to make a change when the housing market took a downturn. After a brief stint at a local distribution, he caught wind of a Daniel Defense opening up a short distance from his home. Soon after, he was hired on at Daniel Defense and is building his career there.
“I’d never seen a milling machine, a CNC machine, or a lathe machine. I didn’t know how they made stuff, but it interested me,” Bacon said.
The birth of his first child prompted Bacon to reflect on his career, now three years into his employment with Daniel Defense. “I knew it wouldn’t be easy working 40 hours a week and taking classes, but I had a little girl, and I wanted to make things better for her,” he says of his decision to enroll in the Machine Tool program at Savannah Technical College.
Now, Bacon has set his sights on becoming a CNC Programmer. “Gradually picking things up at work would prolong my progress,” he said. “Having access to the machines, software, and knowledgeable instructors at Savannah Tech has shortened the learning curve.”
Rachel Peeples is not a typical teenager. Now seventeen, this Richmond Hill High School senior is focused on her goal of owning a bakery and is taking some important steps to get there, beginning with dual enrollment at Savannah Technical College’s Baking and Pastry program.
As a dual enrollment student, she earns high school and college credit at the same time. This year, she will finish her seventh college class and expects to be nearly halfway through the associate degree when she graduates high school. Rachel plans on working her way through the remainder of the program and continuing on with business classes to prepare for owning a business.
She’s had her eye on this career for years, she notes. “I see all of the artistic things that can be done with cake – and it’s all edible,” Peeples said. “I fell in love with the Baking and Pastry program. Now that I’ve entered some competitions and done well, I’m creating amazing pieces of art.”
Her team earned first place at last year’s Gingerbread House Competition at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa.
Her perseverance has been noticed and rewarded. She had to wait until she was old enough for dual enrollment and after a year of pursuit, she is now working with a family-owned bakery, All Things Chocolate and More in Richmond Hill.
For Peeples, it’s year four of a five-year plan. Inspired by her grandmother, she took smart steps to get started.
“She taught me that planning ahead and setting goals is the way to success. Once I complete this, it will be time to make a new plan – one to open the bakery,” says Rachel.
Savannah Technical College supports workforce development in Bryan County in several important ways. With campuses conveniently located to the north and south of the county, 453 residents enrolled at the College to pursue a credential in Health Sciences, Industrial Technology, Aviation, Business and Technology, and Public Service. Dual enrollment programs operate at both public high schools, enabling students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously, Adult Education classes and GED preparation are offered at both public libraries and at the Richmond Hill Goodwill Retail Store and Job Connection enabling adult learners to master the skills they need for employment, and customized training and assessment is offered to Bryan County businesses as they employ and retain a skilled workforce.
Before a crowd of students, faculty and supporters, Savannah Technical College President Dr. Kathy Love made two announcements Thursday morning at the school.
The first? Savannah Tech is embarking upon a $10 million “major gifts” fundraising campaign aimed at expanding its mission in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties..
The second? The school is already nearly halfway to its goal, with more than $4.4 million raised so far.
“I’ve learned a great deal about capital campaigns through this process,’ Love told those who attended as she announced both the goal and the amount raised. “And that is that you don’t announce formally until you’re about halfway there.”
The funds are being raised by the Savannah Technical College Foundation, and Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette chairs the STC Local Board of Directors.
He said the campaign will help STC better serve students in Liberty County, where Savannah Tech proposes adding a 32,340-square foot Precision Manufacturing Center, complete with two industrial labs, two machine tool labs and four classrooms, to its Liberty Campus.
About $1 million in funding for the center project was to come from a proposed renewal of SPLOST recently voted down by taxpayers, and Lovette said the measure will be put back on the ballot in November. In the meantime, the capital campaign will help bring more services to Liberty.
“This will help us provide the labs we need,” Lovette said. “We need the best so when our students are done, they can go on into the workforce and be successful.”
The proposed labs are also closer to home for residents in Liberty County, said Ron Tolley, director of the Liberty County Industrial Authority.
“It’s tough for someone in Hinesville to do the 80-mile round trip (to Savannah Tech’s main campus),” he said, noting the campaign will be “beneficial to the entire region, including our Liberty County campus with the addition of the advanced manufacturing cluster and the various programs that will come out of that. I know our industries are very interested in and supportive of the Liberty County campus.”
One reason for such support might be numbers.
“One of the problems we have is there are some people with skills our industries are looking for, but there aren’t nearly enough,” Tolley said. “We need to be able to expand the number of people coming out of the programs with those skills. And you can get some of those skills now, here at the main campus, but not yet out at the branch campuses, not to the extent we need.”
Savannah Tech’s campaign will focus on five areas, Love said: precision manufacturing, health sciences – the school will offer an associate’s in nursing and expand its offerings in Liberty County, making it one of the few along the coast – culinary arts and heritage tourism, technology and student support such as scholarships.
Other plans include the addition of biology and chemistry labs in both Effingham and Liberty.
And students were featured at Thursday’s announcement, speaking about the impact STC had on them.
Also speaking were various STC supporters, including Dick Eckberg, a former United Parcel Service executive who is chairing the campaign. . The auditorium in which Eckberg spoke bears his name.
“In my opinion, Savanah Tech is probably the greatest asset this community has,” he said. “People from all ages, all walks of life go to Savannah Tech to learn skills so they can become a contributing member of society. Not only do they learn skills, but they also learn the dignity of work. Graduates are helping to make our society a better place.”