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Shelton State brings truck driving school to Demopolis

Shelton State's Truck Driving Technology Program will begin in Demopolis on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Shelton State’s Truck Driving Technology Program will begin in Demopolis on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Shelton State Community College will begin their Truck Driving Technology Program at the former New Era building in Demopolis on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The program is an eight-week course that will prepare students for entry-level positions as a tractor-trailer driver or straight truck driver.

Mike Fields, who is heading up the program through Shelton State’s Career Services Center, said it’s important because the trucking industry needs drivers.

“There is a shortage of truck drivers, not only in this area, but nationwide, and this is something we could get started quickly,” Fields said. “There are two companies locally, Dana Transport and McElroy Trucking, that are in need of drivers. We feel this will be a great asset in this community.”

Brenda Tuck, the executive director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority, said this program will be a great asset for the entire region.

“This will be tremendous for the region,” she said. “We’ve already had other counties calling us for information because they knew it was in the works. They can send companies and individuals over who are looking for driver training. There is a low supply of drivers with a high demand, and this is a solution for that.”

The program will cost $1,500, plus approximately $6 for a moving violations report from the Department of Public Safety and $90 for a Department of Transportation driver’s physical and drug screen. The requirements for admission are as follows:

•Must have a current Class D driver’s license with no serious driving violations

•Must be 21-years-old or older for tractor-trailer driver training or 18 or older for straight truck training

•DOT driver’s physical and drug screen required

•Current moving violations report from the Department of Public Safety

George Overstreet, the operations manager for Dana Transport in Demopolis, said the new program would benefit the trucking industry greatly.

“There is already a shortage of drivers, and the long-range forecast for the trucking industry is good,” Overstreet said. “The economy is on its way back, and if it keeps growing like it is, projections say by 2022, the industry will be 250,000 drivers short of what will be needed to haul the freight.”

Overstreet added that Dana has seen several drivers retire in recent years and has had a hard time replacing them.

“There just aren’t a lot of driver applicants,” he said. “In July in Alabama, there were 4,000 ads posted looking for drivers.”

He said new drivers out of the school might not be qualified because of age to work at Dana, but he felt the outlook would be good for graduates of the program.

“We’re a bulk carrier that carries a lot of hazardous materials, so we require drivers to be at least 25-years-old,” he said. “If they meet the age requirement and other criteria, we could look at them right of the school and train them in our company.”

Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said he’s looking forward to the partnership with Shelton State.

“This will provide an opportunity for people to get good-paying jobs with benefits,” Grayson said. “This is the whole point of what we’re doing with the New Era property. I feel good about our partnership with Shelton State.”

In addition to the program that will run from Oct. 15 to Dec. 16, Shelton State will also be offering programs that begin in January and March.

Classes will meet Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Friday from 7 a.m. to noon. For more information about the program, contact Rachael Waldrop at (205) 391-2386 or rwaldrop@sheltonstate.edu.