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  • Logging contractors, CAT Forest Products and three Maine community colleges announce new training program for mechanized logging

    By  Ramona du Houx

    The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine, Milton CAT/CAT Forest Products and three Maine community college partners joined state legislators and students at a press conference today to announce the creation of the region’s first post-secondary mechanized logging operators training program.

    The program was created through a public-private partnership between the state, the Community College System, and logging industry leaders to train loggers on innovative technology that is transforming the industry and work in the Maine woods. It is expected to begin operating early in 2016.

    The announcement took place at Gerald Pelletier, Inc. on the Golden Road in Millinocket, and included a live demonstration of mechanized logging equipment by employees of the company. Gerald Pelletier is a founding member of the PLC and was showcased on the Discovery Channel television show, American Loggers.

    “Maine has been a leader nationally with respect to timber harvesting for the past two hundred years,” said Dana Doran, PLC Executive Director. “The creation of this new program not only fulfills a great need that exists with our industry at the present time, but it provides a great example of how Maine’s professional logging contractors lead the way in tackling issues and finding solutions which will sustain this industry for years to come.”

    Peter Collins, Forestry Industry Manager for Milton CAT, announced the donation of $1.2 million of equipment to the new program.

    “This program will ensure that the next generation of loggers in Maine has the skills they need to provide a good living for their families and care for the forest - Milton CAT and Caterpillar are excited to play a role,” said Peter Collins, Forestry Industry Manager for Milton CAT, when he announced the donation of $1.2 million of equipment to the new program.

    Additional support for the program is being sought from Maine Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves' program, ‘Put ME to Work’, which was recently enacted by the Maine Legislature and provides $1 million for the next two years to support creation of new job training programs at Maine’s community colleges.

    “I'm very proud of the bipartisan work lawmakers did this session to help make this new logging training program possible," said Speaker Eves, who led the effort to pass the "Put ME to Work" job training initiative and funding in the state budget. "By bringing workers, students, and employers together to support job training, we are helping to create good paying jobs for loggers across our state. Logging is a very important and growing industry in our state, and we must prepare our workforce for the innovations that are changing how people work in the woods."

    Once fully functional, the new certificate program will be offered on a rotating basis at different locations throughout northern and eastern Maine. It is designed to produce professional equipment operators with the knowledge and skills necessary to fill industry vacancies in mechanical forest operations throughout Maine, and is being developed in response to industry demand.

    “This project represents the progress that can be made when industry leaders, educators and state government focus on addressing a problem,” said President Timothy Crowley of NMCC . “Caterpillar’s commitment to this program is pivotal to its success. We are fortunate to have such outstanding partners.”

    “This program represents the very best that is possible when our public institutions partner with private industry,” said President Joseph Cassidy of WCCC and EMCC.

    Once fully functional, the new certificate program will be offered on a rotating basis at different locations throughout northern and eastern Maine. It is designed to produce professional equipment operators with the knowledge and skills necessary to fill industry vacancies in mechanical forest operations throughout Maine, and is being developed in response to industry demand.

    In classroom and hands on settings, students will be taught machine operation and repair, maintenance, harvesting laws, best management practices and safety. Students completing the program will also receive industry recognized safety certification.

    By hosting training at EMCC in Bangor, WCCC in Calais, and NMCC in Presque Isle, the program will benefit from established infrastructure in three of the most heavily harvested regions of Maine. Each of the three colleges has vast experience in workforce training and well-established trade and technical programs that will further support development of the new program. The program is also a natural enhancement to existing community college programs in Diesel Hydraulics, Heavy Equipment and Commercial Driving.

    As the economy has started to improve and demand for forest products has increased, it has become clear to the PLC that there is a desperate need for trained equipment operators for mechanized forest harvesting, not only within its membership, but throughout the state.

    The existing wood harvesting contractors in Maine are anxious to hire mechanized equipment operators who can harvest and process timber efficiently and safely to fulfill the increased demand. This need extends to small, medium and large contractors throughout the State of Maine as they increase productivity and continue to invest in highly technical equipment to meet the ever changing industry standards for forest harvesting.

    To read another story about Put ME to Work please go HERE.