Ground broken on facility for PRCC linemen program

Pearl River Community Collège broke ground in Poplarville this week for the construction of a new training facility to expand its utility lineman program.
Published: Oct. 6, 2023 at 9:15 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - When severe weather causes power outages in South Mississippi, linemen with area electric power companies and associations get to work.

Now, Pearl River Community Collège is working to expand its utility lineman program to make sure the pool of people trained to help is wide and deep enough.

The community college broke ground in Poplarville this week for the construction of a new training facility to accommodate longer and longer waitlists.

Right now, the site is little more than dirt and light poles. But in less than a year, a building full of boots and hard hats is expected to be open.

“We’ve been wanting to start this project a long time,” said Amy Townsend, PRCC Career Technical Education dean. “We continually, year after year, have a waiting list of students trying to enroll in the Utility Lineman Program, and we’re always full.”

The project was given the go-ahead this past July after four Pine Belt electric companies combined on a $1000,000 donation.

The new building will serves as a major step forward from the trailer that currently houses the program.

“Inside that building will be the training facility, a classroom, an office space,” Townsend said. “It’ll have all of the latest and greatest of our energy electrical industries for students to learn on.”

The partnership between the community college and the companies is expected to prove beneficial for both.

“We have waiting lists for our local students trying to get in those fields, and those fields have a need for a workforce,” PRCC vice president Jeff Long said.

The new facility also will serve as part of the college’s plans to give students opportunities to make more for less while staying close to home.

“We are expanding a lot of those programs because of a need,” Long said. “We have a unique opportunity in the community college system to train workforce for the state of Mississippi and in our community.

“And that’s something we’re dedicated to doing.”

According to the Mississippi Department of Economic Security, graduates of the lineman program can expect an average pay rate of $26 per hour working in the Hattiesburg area,

The facility is expected to open in time for the 2024 fall semester.

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