Trucker training program rolling


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 3, 2019

College of The Albemarle is moving ahead with plans to launch a truck driving training course in Chowan County with a target starting date of fall 2020.

Robin Zinmeister, administrator for COA’s Edenton-Chowan campus, said plans to use a former runway at the Northeastern Regional Airport in Edenton as a training site for a commercial driver’s license course are working out well.

“Plans continue for the course to be held at the Chowan campus and the Northeastern Regional Airport,” Zinmeister said. “We have had great support from the town of Edenton for use of this facility.”

Zinmeister, who also serves as COA’s dean of workforce development, public services and career readiness, said the next steps for creating the CDL program are securing funding, hiring a full-time instructor and purchasing equipment.

“We are in the planning and ‘ask’ stages of securing funding from a variety of sources,” he said.

The COA Board of Trustees were advised last month that the college will be looking to area business and industry for potential donations.

Momentum for starting a CDL program has been building for several months, going back at least to the trustees’ February meeting. It was at that meeting that COA Trustee Patti Kersey, who also is a county commissioner in Chowan, mentioned that companies in Chowan have mentioned to her that they need more truck drivers.

Although the cost of a truck or trucks for the course has been cited as a potential obstacle to starting the program, Kersey has said she doesn’t think it would be difficult to get a truck donated. She cited the enthusiastic support the program has in the private sector.

Responding to concerns about the cost of offering CDL training, COA Trustee Paul O’Neal said businesses have also approached him about a need for commercial drivers.

COA Trustee Mike Hall said in February he believes a truck driving program that prepares students to obtain a commercial driver’s license could be a good fit for Chowan.