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By Douglas Sciorra

Steuben County launches pioneering CDL training program

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After two years of planning, “a big deal” becomes reality

BATH – In a groundbreaking move, Steuben County has launched a pioneering  program for Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) training, set to bring its Public Works workforce to the next level and meet federal standards for commercial motor vehicle drivers.

“This is really exciting for our department,” said County Public Works Commissioner Eric Rose. “It’s taken a lot of time and coordination, and people need to know that we are serious about helping our employees be successful. It is a big deal.”

The program, tailored for county employees, not only provides on-the-job training but also tackles the pressing issues of soaring training costs and lengthy commutes to distant campuses.

Rose recently  introduced the CDL initiative to the county Legislature’s Public Works Committee, reporting the program has been more than two years in development. The proposal was approved by the county Legislature Monday.

Rose told legislators the plan took shape two years ago when  Heavy Motor Equipment Operator Devin Gwinner began assisting employees with the practical, driving aspect of the CDL training. With his guidance, eight employees successfully acquired or upgraded their licenses during the initial phase, Rose said.

“This was great for us,” he said. “But we knew we could do more. So, we set about getting it.”

Since then, Gwinner has worked closely with county Public Works Deputy Commissioner Todd Housel to diligently pursue federal Training Provider Registry certification. 

The result of the men’s dedicated efforts is federal certification and a system that not only benefits the employees but also bolsters the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the county’s workforce development.  

 Steuben Public Works now administers the federally required classroom instruction and practical driving experience by integrating permit-holders’ drive time into the work environment. Under the watchful eye of a licensed driver, permit holders can fulfill their job responsibilities for the county while earning their CDL licenses, Rose said.

Currently, the program is actively training five county employees and two municipal drivers, with plans to certify an estimated 8-10 county and municipal employees annually,  Rose said.

Additionally, Rose has forged a collaboration with Alfred State College to establish a program of their own, presenting a broader scope for the CDL initiative.

Rose said later he understands the effort the department employees make to earn certificates and licenses. 
“I underwent adult education to attain my CDL during my off-hours, facing the considerable challenge of juggling late shifts in my construction job,” Rose said.  “To me, my experience underscores the critical importance of ensuring success for today’s emerging workforce.”

The Steuben County Public Works program offers training in two distinct classes of Commercial Driver’s Licenses:

  • Class B: Covering vehicles such as trucks and truck/trailers up to 26,000 pounds, encompassing 10-wheel dump trucks, cement mixers, and school buses.
  • Class A: Encompassing trucks and truck/trailers up to 80,000 pounds, including semi-tractor trailers.
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