KELLOGG - When the Lucky Friday mine was closed last December, layoffs across the valley were widespread.
"Last January, things were looking pretty bleak, weren't they?" said Marie Price, North Idaho College's Director of Workforce Training.
NIC, in conjunction with the Idaho Department of Labor, devised a plan to help those willing and able to retrain in a new skills area and commute to Coeur d'Alene to do so.
The agencies interviewed numerous unemployed miners and came to the conclusion that welding would give them the best opportunity for quick re-employment.
Nine Silver Valley men were awarded certificates Tuesday night at NIC's Silver Valley Center after completing a 160-hour, 10-week welding course taught by Brandon Wisdom of Coeur d'Alene. Usually, that much information would be learned in a two-year course.
"Hats off to these guys," Wisdom said. "They put in the work and put in the hours and got it done."
Students learned flux core arc welding and shielded metal arc welding.
Price congratulated the men on their persistence and willingness to get out of their comfort zone.
Nancy McGee from Department of Labor said it was fun working with the students, and the commitment they showed proves their work ethic.
"I wish I had your skills," said Mike Mires, the Dean of Professional, Technical and Workforce Education. "I admire what you do because I've tried it and it isn't easy."
The dean's father sent him one-way to Alaska as an 18-year-old, where he found work on an oil rig. There, he learned the basics of welding and still practices the art, but he admits he's not as good as the students to whom he presented certificates.
Students earn welding awards
n Nine students received awards Tuesday night in varying skill levels of welding. 1G is flat welding, 2G is horizontal welding, 3G is vertical welding and 4G is overhead welding. Jacob Leach and Dean Waldo completed 90 hours of the class but returned to work before receiving certification.
Harold Lamphere received 1G certification. Gian Ghigleri, Scott Marker and Donald Scheel each received 3G certification, while Lonnie Cook, Jamie Flores, Neal Houn, Brian Self and Mike Wilson received 3G and 4G certification.