Jeff Tech celebrates Grant for Farm to Refrigerator Program

State Senator Cris Dush, State Representative Brian Smith, the Jefferson County Commissioners, and Andrea Verobish of Congressman Glenn Thompson’s office attended the December meeting of the Jeff Tech Operating Committee to celebrate the funding for Jeff Tech’s Farm to Refrigerator Program.

Jeff Tech received a RACP Grant for $1,100,000 and an additional $1,125,000 from Federal Appropriations to build a new facility.  Jeff Tech Director Dr. Barry Fillman said it was a “winding road” to get the funding, remembering when the Jefferson County Commissioners presented the idea of training the next generation of USDA-certified meat-cutters. 

“We got a lot of help from a lot of people along the way, and that persistence pays off,” Fillman said.  “We are now sitting on $2.2 million to build a facility that will train the next generation of meat-cutters and take those fields we grew up around and put a bunch of steers in them.”

Fillman also thanked Jeff Tech staff members, saying that they put in a lot of hard work to make this funding happen.

Senator Dush praised the work that was done, but said there is much more to come.

“You’ve got the money, and now you’ve got to make it happen,” Dush said.  “I have every confidence that you’ll do it.”

Dush said that many meat-cutting businesses are looking for employees, and that there are a lot of opportunities for someone to start out in a small facility and then move to a large corporation.  He concluded, “This is an excellent example of the very local with the schools and the county, the state, and the federal all working together.”

“Congratulations,” Rep. Smith said.  “Getting this grant shows your hard work, putting in the application, but it also shows the quality of the education that comes out of Jeff Tech, that they have no problem giving you the money. That’s a very good accomplishment that Jeff Tech has done.”

According to a statement issued by Fillman, the new facility “will be used to train butchers and meat cutters for the entire region.  The entire North Central Region has the potential to fill countless fields with steers, pigs, chickens, sheep and goats and many other exciting livestock.”

The program is already getting additional support, with a $2,500 donation from First Commonwealth Bank accepted at the December meeting.

The December meeting was also the reorganization meeting, and Dr. Fred Park retains the gavel as chairperson with Robert Wachob as vice chairperson.  Brookville Superintendent Dr. Erich May continues as chief officer.

The members of the committee remain the same, and Dr. Fillman said that the continuation was important, adding, “This committee has overseen tremendous growth at Jeff Tech. You make decisions based on kids.”

In the regular meeting, Chairperson Park announced that Jeff Tech received a “perfect audit” from Root, Spitznas, and Smiley. Also in the regular meeting, Jeff Tech approved purchasing a polisher/grinder/burnisher as well as a hard floor machine for $12,878. Retroactively, the committee approved purchases from the PCCD School and Mental Health and Safety and Security Project totaling $140,000.

The operating committee accepted three resignations, then filling the open School to Career Coordinator position with Eugene Sutton.  Chelsea Clinger came on as payroll accountant specialist, Nathaniel Keth is a new computer technician, and Brianna Dusch is moving from her special education split position with Brockway to take an open special education position solely at Jeff Tech.

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