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CMU Foundation digs deep securing $45,000 grant from Pinnacol Assurance

Grant will purchase backhoe to benefit Western Colorado Community College Electric Line Worker Program

Grand Junction –Colorado Mesa University Foundation CEO Liz Meyer is planning the easiest ground breaking celebration of her career — thanks to Pinnacol Assurance, she won’t be using a shovel. Instead, she will join WCCC students this summer in learning how to use a new backhoe during the machine’s inaugural dig at the lineworker program facility. 

The grant was announced by Meyer as she thanked Pinnacol for their generosity. 

“On behalf of President Foster, WCCC students and faculty and the CMU Foundation, I’d like to thank Pinnacol Assurance for the generosity and support this project provides the WCCC line worker program — one that is critical to the regional workforce of western Colorado’s utility companies.” 

The lineworker program averages between 50-60 students who will all use the new backhoe to train and gain first-hand expertise with heavy equipment operating. Because of the real-world nature of the training facility, and the programs’ hands-on approach to learning, the lineworker program has a job placement success rate of 90%. The numbers compares favorably to the statewide average of 81%. 

“Gaining knowledge and skills to work with underground utilities is critical for the safety of businesses moving forward,” said Chris Sautter, Pinnacol’s corporate citizenship programs administrator. “The need for skilled talent in this industry continues to grow, and those learning the skill need proper equipment for training.”

Tom Potter, WCCC electric lineworker program instructor, believes the grant is just the latest exciting news when it comes to the programs’ momentum. 

“In 2019, the program also constructed a state-of-the-art, indoor training facility equipped with poles and other real-world infrastructure that prepares lineworkers for diverse, in-field challenges,” said Potter. “The program is honored to have thoughtful, forward looking partners like Pinnacol who see the needs of the future and invest in education accordingly.” 

About the WCCC Electric Lineworker Program: 

The Electric Lineworker program covers all areas of training needed for those who desire to become an apprentice electric lineman. Students learn the basic skills in the study of electricity, the fundamentals of electric line work and transformer connections, and underground repair and installation. The Electric Lineworker program operates within an indoor and outdoor, hands-on electric training facility with classrooms on site.

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Written by David Ludlam