Category Archives: Williamson County

Manufacturing Consortium Partners with TSTC for $293,211 Job-Training Grant

(TEMPLE) — Texas State Technical College has partnered with a manufacturing consortium including The Butler Weldments Corp., Reynolds Consumer Products LLC and Temple Bottling Co. to train 130 new and incumbent workers using a $293,211 Skills Development Fund grant.

Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez presented the check to officials from TSTC, Butler Weldments, Reynolds Consumer Products and Temple Bottling Co. at an 11 a.m. ceremony today at the Temple Economic Development Corporation’s Board Room.

Steven Dobos, president of Butler Weldments, said the company is excited to get more training for employees.

“It’s a win-win for everybody involved,” Dobos said. “Skilled labor has been very difficult to find lately. What better way to bring about a solution for us than customized in-house training for our employees. It’s a phenomenal thing to do.”

Kyle Butler, plant operations manager at Temple Bottling Co., agreed.

“Our employees are primarily unskilled and this is going to go a long way,” he said.

Rick Villa, plant manager of Reynolds Consumer Products, said they’ve tried several other training programs, but they didn’t work for the company.

“This is the first program that we’ve really been able to lock our teeth into,” Villa said. “We’re training our operators to become mechanics, our mechanics to become electricians, and taking our electrical skills up in the plant. You need to bring those skills along if you want to be successful.”

Commissioner Alvarez said the training provided is necessary with changing technology.

“Each person that spoke today mentioned that skills have changed,” Alvarez said. “The face of manufacturing has changed. We’re talking about technology and terminology that didn’t exist before. It’s changed. Times have changed and the folks on the receiving end of this grant know that the change is coming. And so, the fact that they’re talking about keeping up their skills and keeping up with today’s technology says a lot.”

Charley Ayres, vice president of the Temple Economic Development Corporation, said the grant speaks to the sense of community in the area.

“It’s exciting to know that this grant doesn’t just involve Temple companies, it also involves our neighbors in Cameron,” Ayres said. “We work together very closely to try to make our businesses more successful. We understand that what happens in Cameron makes Temple better. That workforce makes us all stronger in our region.

The Skills Development Fund is one of the state’s premier job-training programs, keeping Texas competitive with a skilled workforce. Commissioner Alvarez said the grant would have an overall impact of $4 million.

Workers trained will include 35 new hires, and 95 jobs will be upgraded. Workers will be from Temple-area plants and will be trained in the areas of production, maintenance, mechanical and support occupations. Trainees will include machinists, maintenance technicians and production workers, and training will be provided by TSTC instructors. After completing the training, workers will receive an average hourly wage of $20.90.

For more information on TSTC’s workforce training, visit

TSTC Presents Faculty Member of the Year Award

(HUTTO) – Employees at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County celebrated Employee Appreciation Day on June 19, a day that included fun for employees and awards for employees of the year.

George Fields, an Industrial Electrical Systems instructor who has worked at TSTC for six years, was chosen by his colleagues as Faculty Member of the Year. The Greenville, Texas, native was excited to hear the news.

“It was satisfying,” Fields said. “I like interacting with the students and helping them reach their goals. What they said they’re giving me the award for is what I try to accomplish, so it feels like I did what I set out to do.”

Fields is on his third career. The veteran retired from the Navy after serving 20 years in the military – seven years in the Army and 13 in the Navy. In the military, he served as an electronics technician. He then went on to a supervisory role and, in his last tour, taught electronics. Fields later worked as a Facilities Maintenance and Services Supervisor in shopping malls, where he stayed for another 18 years before retiring again.

Fields set out to be a teacher after working as a supervisor and realizing that there were certain skills he wanted his workers to know on the job. He began teaching at a prison in 1996.

“You like to see people reach and surpass their ability to do their job,” he said. “You know what you want them to know. You know the type of training you want them to have. It’s not that they aren’t already receiving good training. But are they getting the right training?”

After the prison, Fields taught at Blinn College and in 2011 made his way to TSTC. But teaching wasn’t his first experience with the college; Fields had attended TSTC in Waco in 1983.

“I had been working at the mall part time and going to school part time,” Fields said. “I went down to Waco and found out about TSTC and enrolled. After about two semesters, they asked me to go back to the mall as a facilities maintenance and services supervisor.”

In his short time there, TSTC made an impression on Fields, and once he began teaching, he made it his goal to return to the college.

“That was a goal of mine, to come back to TSTC as an instructor,” he said. “I said if I got that opportunity that I would, and the situation was ideal. It was a brand-new school. They needed old folks like me who knew how to get something started. So I got to get in on the ground floor and see this program start and grow.”

Employees of the campus submitted nominations for the award, and the final winner was chosen by a committee. Employees had great things to say about Fields, with one teammate writing, “Invaluable knowledge, invaluable resource, years of dedication and solid as a rock! He’s an example to us all to keep raising the bar and never stop!”

Another comment reads, “Mr. Fields is an advocate of the student and a consummate professional. If he tells you something, you can trust it is correct. He is there for the other instructors as well.”

Fields is agraduate of Saint Paul High School in Neylandville, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s (2000) and master’s degrees​ (2002) from Texas A&M University Commerce.

TSTC touts itself as “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 90 positions at its 10 campuses. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit

TSTC Presents Staff Member of the Year Award

(HUTTO) – Employees at Texas State Technical College celebrated Employee Appreciation Day on June 19, a day that included fun for employees and awards for employees of the year.

Etsuko Martinez, senior staff assistant who has worked at TSTC for 2 1/2 years, was chosen by her colleagues as Staff Member of the Year. The Hutto resident was excited to hear of the news.

“It was definitely unexpected,” Martinez said. “I was honored and glad to be chosen.”

Employees of the campus submitted nominations for the award, and the final winner was chosen by a committee.

Employees had great things to say about Martinez, with one teammate writing, “Etsuko is dependable, efficient and unfailingly punctual. In fact, I have never worked with a person who gives as much attention to detail as she does … She also projects a warm, cheerful attitude to our students, staff and faculty. She loves people, works hard and always tries to lift the spirits of those around her. I believe these characteristics represent all that is good about TSTC.”

Another comment reads, “Etsuko has helped me to learn my job, and she continues to be available whenever I need advice. Etsuko always handles her work with thoroughness.”

Martinez prides herself on being able to assist her co-workers.

“I’m happy when I’m able to help somebody,” she said. “I feel accomplished.”

She reflected on a time last year when her co-workers put together a gift for her after her father passed away.

“I went back home to Japan last November for my father’s memorial service, and they gave me a very thoughtful gift,” she said. “That was really sweet of them. I really feel the support all the time, and that’s why I always want to give back to TSTC. We’re family!”

TSTC touts itself as being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 90 positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit


Father, Son Make TSTC a Family Affair

Graduation(HUTTO) – When Texas State Technical College welding graduate James Gnuschke walked the stage on May 1, he made one TSTC instructor a little more proud than the rest of them. James’ father, Industrial Maintenance instructor Allen Gnuschke, beamed with delight as his son accepted his diploma.

Lifelong interests and a job loss in Colorado led the Gnuschkes to TSTC, where James wanted to pursue a certificate in welding.

“I did some pipeline work and stuff like that a few years before I came down here. The welding side of it always really piqued my interest,” James said. “It was always something I wanted to try. I ended up getting laid off from the heavy equipment job I had in Colorado, and we came down here to pursue new careers.”

James said a love of working with his hands and watching his dad work made him want to learn a trade of his own.

“My dad has always had jobs where he works with his hands, building and repairing,” he said. “I’ve always looked up to my dad and enjoyed working with him on projects when I was younger. It kind of inspired me to follow the same kind of work.”

James, who has been hired as a structural rig welder for a private contractor, will begin his new job this week. James was hired on at a pay rate of $40 an hour and will also earn an additional $15 per hour for use of his truck.

“After TSTC, I feel like I’m pretty well prepared to work,” James said. “I like working outside and having a trade that not everybody can just pick up and do.”

Though James chose to study welding instead of his father’s program of Industrial Maintenance, Allen said the two programs go hand in hand and work well together.

“Welders are handy people to have around,” Allen said. “It’s kind of a complementary thing. We’ve worked together on some projects here. We’ve actually built several rigs for students here. It’s a good match.”

The duo teamed up as part of a Hutto Has Heart project to continue the legacy of a Hutto resident whose dream was to raise a cross at the Hutto Lutheran Church. TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said students and staff from TSTC worked on the project for a couple of days.

“There was a gentleman in Hutto who passed away and his dream was to build a cross at the Hutto Lutheran Cemetery from metal that had been scrapped from The Gin here in town. His family was looking for somebody to finish his dream,” Padilla said. “We decided that, to be consistent with our community efforts, we could help with that in some way. So we wrangled up a few of the guys and went out there. They went out to the site and built the cross, ground it, welded it together and erected it. Now the Hutto Lutheran Church has a beautiful cross that’s going to be there for a long time.”

Padilla said it was inspiring to see the Gnuschkes work together.

“This project was a glaring example of not only TSTC’s commitment to the community, but also the power of two generations, a father and a son, working together side by side and doing something that requires so much skill,” he said. “It was really nice to see that.”

As for Allen, he said he has nothing but pride for his son.

“At graduation, the population in the room went to two,” Allen said. “They could have been throwing tomatoes for all I know. Have you ever seen the movie ‘The Patriot’? When they’re going on about who’s the better man, and Mel Gibson says, ‘No, my sons were the better men,’ that’s how I feel.”

James urges those who are thinking about a technical career to “just do it.”

“There are a lot of people that spend too much time overthinking things and making bigger problems than there should be,” he said. “I had a gut feeling and just went for it, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

TSTC is registering for the fall semester through Monday, Aug. 21. Interested in registering, but aren’t sure how? TSTC will host three Registration Rallies to help students through the registration process beginning Wednesday, June 21. For more information on the rallies, TSTC’s welding program or the college, visit

TSTC Holds Spring Commencement in Waco

(WACO) – More than 550 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2017 Commencement held Monday, May 1, at the Waco Convention Center.

Students from TSTC’s campuses in Waco, Williamson County, North Texas and Fort Bend County took part in the ceremony. The Waco campus had 495 graduates, Williamson County had 48 graduates, North Texas had 15 graduates and Fort Bend County had one graduate.

Many of the graduates already have jobs and are ready to work.

Kody Teague, 20, of Rockdale and a graduate of Caldwell High School, received an associate degree in Electrical Power and Controls. He will start work soon as a relay technician at Power Grid Engineering LLC in Dallas.

“It feels pretty good at 20 making good money,” Teague said. “It’s not too bad.”

Teague said attending TSTC gave him the opportunity to meet new friends who share his interests and to learn life lessons.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said.

Matthew Warrington, 21, of Corsicana received associate degrees in Diesel Equipment Technology Heavy Truck Specialization and Off-Highway Specialization. He will begin work this month at Waukesha-Pearce Industries in Pflugerville.

“I had fun and made a lot of friends,” Warrington said. “I liked the hands-on classes.”

TSTC had more than 1,200 graduates this spring across the state and has graduated more than 100,000 students in its more than 50-year history.

For more information, log on to

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TSTC Uses Funding, Collaboration to Help Small Businesses

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College is using partnerships and available funding to help small businesses with workforce training and development.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy,” said Isidro Ramos, a business relationship manager for Workforce Training at TSTC in Harlingen.

The Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills for Small Business program is a way the technical college has helped improve workers’ skills. The program enables businesses with less than 100 employees to work with the commission, who in turn makes funding available for colleges to provide training.

TSTC currently has $395,000 in Skills for Small Business grants statewide.

“With SSB’s, TSTC can serve small businesses on a course-by-course, employee-by-employee basis,” said Carliss Hyde, vice president for sponsored programs at TSTC in Waco. “The funds enable the workforce team to find creative ways to collaborate with business owners needing specific training for their employees.”

TSTC has used TWC money to host recent trainings on Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines at the Williamson County campus in Hutto and on CPR, first aid and automated external defibrillator usage in Waco.

Employees at Coppera Plumbing and Commercial Services in Taylor have attended the continuing education classes. Coppera has less than 20 employees and a service area extending from San Antonio to Waco to College Station.

“The reason we took the classes is because owners and general contractors are looking for companies that have good safety records,” said Sam Dowdy, Coppera’s general manager.

Dowdy said he liked the convenience of TSTC having a presence in Williamson County.

“We will definitely continue looking at graduates from TSTC,” Dowdy said. “They are looking for careers in the trades and we are looking for people that want careers in the trades.”

Outreach is taking place in other ways, too.

TSTC in Harlingen is working with Workforce Solutions Cameron, the U.S. Small Business Administration and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Small Business Development Center on the Small Business Initiative. The centerpiece of the effort will be a needs-assessment survey being sent before the end of January to several of Cameron County’s small business owners to gather input on workforce needs.

“Hopefully we will get a good response, and in the end, we want to have a training calendar that the small businesses can access,” said Ramos.


TSTC Students Volunteer for Hutto has Heart

House_3(HUTTO) – Students from Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Electrical Systems program volunteered Thursday to help run electrical wire in a Hutto resident’s home.

The job, part of a Hutto has Heart project, will help a local family make their home more accessible for their daughter, who has used a wheelchair since an accident last year.

Hutto has Heart provides assistance to families through requests for help, including car repairs, assistance with medical and utility bills, gas money, food, clothing and more.

TSTC recruiter and Hutto City Councilman Michael Smith said TSTC was excited to lend a hand for the project.

“Hutto has Heart’s program coordinator reached out to us with the general need, and instructor Mike Jenkins, (TSTC Provost) Edgar Padilla and I sat down to make sure that we had the manpower and that our students would be properly prepared in time,” Smith said. “Everything lined up, so we jumped at the opportunity.”

Smith said the occasion presented a way not only to make Hutto aware of what TSTC students are doing, but also to help out in the community.

“It is great to give back, “Smith said. “We don’t just have a building here in Hutto; we’re part of the community and a responsible part of that is giving back and helping out when we can.”

Industrial Electrical Systems instructor Mike Jenkins said the experience would benefit the students by learning on the job.

“They’re getting hands-on experience,” Jenkins said. “It’s not what you get in the classroom under clean conditions. You actually see what it’s like to come out and work around people’s personal belongings.”

Eight students helped to install the lighting and electrical power for the handicapped-accessible bathroom. Second-semester student Eddie Santos said he was glad to help.

“I wanted to help out other people,” Santos said. “Our teacher told us about the situation, and us going out there to help was a good thing.”

Santos said the experience helped him learn new job skills.

“Since the Sheetrock was already put in, we got to learn some of the remodeling aspects of the job,” he said. “We’ve done wiring before, but it was before any of that was done, so we learned how to go over those obstacles.”

Padilla said the school couldn’t be more proud to partner with Hutto has Heart.

“We care about our community and are thankful for the opportunity to give back,” Padilla said. “We want to offer a huge thank-you to our friends at The Home Depot in Hutto and the efforts of our students and staff.”

TSTC will begin registering for the summer semester on April 3. The Industrial Electrical Systems certificate is a two-semester program that teaches students residential and commercial wiring.

For more information on TSTC’s Industrial Electrical Systems program, or to apply, visit

TSTC Welding Grad Lands Job with Growing Company

IMG_0311(HUTTO) – When the oil industry crashed in 2015, Cedar Park resident Stephen Price found himself unemployed and looking for a new career.

Price’s brother had enrolled at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County and told him about it. Price wanted something in which he could use his mechanical military background, so he followed suit after learning about TSTC’s welding program.

Price said he learned a lot at TSTC.

“When I started, I knew almost nothing about welding,” Price said. “I think I picked up pretty quick. I’m a quick study. There were some things that took more time to get proficient at.”

The Air Force veteran graduated in December 2016 and found employment at 101 Mobility in Cedar Park. Price wanted to stay close to home after spending six years traveling the world with the Air Force. He served three years at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, three in Aviano, Italy, and some time in Iraq and Qatar.

“Those years in Italy were the best years of my life,” Price said. “I traveled all over Europe. I was an hour north of Venice. In three hours I could be in Poland or Germany.”

Now, he is working as the fifth member in a growing company, and he was excited to get in early.

“101 Mobility installs handicap accessibility items like stair lifts, elevators and ramps,” Price said. “I assemble and install them to the customer’s specifications. It’s what I want to do, the pay is good and I’m getting in on the ground floor.”

101 Mobility began in 2008 in Wilmington, North Carolina. The company opened in Cedar Park in 2012, and current owner and president Kellye Jennings purchased the location in 2015. At the time, the company had two employees, making her the third. She’s since almost doubled the head count.

“I’m really trying to develop more resources and offer more products,” Jennings said. “I’ve invested in additional employees with the expectation that we’ll start realizing the additional revenue. I feel that it’s more important to have the people in place first and then experience the growth, instead of experiencing the growth and scrambling to find people. With growth comes opportunity, and I think that’s what drew in Stephen.”

Jennings was initially drawn to Price’s resume because of his military experience.

“I think it’s important to hire someone with a military background because of the connection with our customers,” Jennings said. “The discipline and the skills you develop in the military really lend themselves to the business. The fact that he recently graduated was the icing on the cake. With him focusing on his next objective, which is developing his skill, shows focus and initiative, and those are two qualities that I really feel are important.”

Spring classes at TSTC in Williamson County begin Tuesday, Jan. 17. TSTC begins registering for the summer semester on April 3.

For more information on TSTC’s welding program, visit

TSTC Campuses Hold Fall Commencement

(WACO) – More than 480 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2016 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 9, at the Waco Convention Center.

Students from TSTC’s campuses in Waco, Williamson County, North Texas and Fort Bend County took part in the ceremony. The Waco campus had 449 graduates, Williamson County had 19 graduates, North Texas had 18 graduates and Fort Bend County had two graduates.

Many of the graduates either have jobs or career offers.

Hobie Horrell, 20, of Edgewood graduated with an associate degree in Diesel Equipment Technology. He described his new job working on diesel equipment at Autoworks Sales and Service in Edgewood as a good opportunity to work in his hometown.

“It feels good to get my life started being that I’m 20,” Horrell said.

Salvador Ceja, 20, of Mansfield said he was excited to receive his associate degree in Diesel Equipment Technology. He will soon start a job at Warner Enterprises Inc. in Dallas.

“It has been awesome at TSTC,” Ceja said. “You get to make some good money in my field.”

Some graduates are still making plans.

Ty Webb, 20, of Corpus Christi graduated with two associate degrees in Instrumentation Technology and Electrical Power and Controls. He chose the fields to study because of his relatives’ work. Webb said his time at TSTC was a challenge but one he enjoyed. The Tuloso-Midway High School graduate said he is job hunting but also thinking about pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

TSTC had more than 900 graduates this fall across the state.

TSTC has graduated more than 100,000 students in its history.

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Culinary Arts Program Cooking Up Visibility at TSTC

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program is gaining interest among students.

Chef Martin Ellenberger of Hutto joined the faculty at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County in late August. He is the primary instructor for that campus’ Culinary Arts program, which also has a high school dual enrollment teacher and an adjunct instructor.

Ellenberger, an Ohio native, initially joined the Culinary Arts faculty at TSTC in Waco in January 2015. He decided to change campuses to decrease his commute.

“It’s definitely different (at the Williamson County campus),” Ellenberger said. “There is a lot more stuff I need to stay on top of. I’m buying products and doing lesson plans. I’m able to create the recipes I want and have more responsibility with what I’m doing.”

The program had four students last fall, but has 12 students enrolled this year.

Brady Davis, 20, of Georgetown and a 2014 graduate of Eastview High School, has worked at the Walburg German Restaurant since high school. He said he finds kitchen life enjoyable and wants to learn everything he can in his classes. His goal is to own a food truck.

“I like the flexibility. The price was a huge factor, and I can keep a full-time job,” Davis said.

Brayan Flores, 18, of Taylor and a 2016 graduate of Taylor High School, took culinary classes through dual enrollment. The classes he is taking now at TSTC are an extension of what he has already learned. Flores also wants his own food truck or restaurant in a few years.

On a recent afternoon, Flores donned plastic gloves to melt a slab of butter on a pastry board to make dough.

“I like to look at different recipes and try them out,” Flores said. “I want to learn whatever will help me in the workforce.”

Some of the classes students will take this fall include Meat Preparation and Cooking, Food Service Operations and Systems, and Fundamentals of Baking.

“I like the way that we are structured,” Ellenberger said. “We take the students from having no culinary knowledge to being able to produce in a restaurant setting. I try to introduce as many items as possible that they would not be familiar with in the process.”

Culinary Arts’ two kitchens are on the third floor of the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto. The cooking kitchen can comfortably accommodate 24 students, and the baking kitchen can hold up to 20 students. Each kitchen has movable tables and stools, an array of skillets, pots, pans, ovens and cold-storage areas.

“I am excited and relieved at the opportunity to have someone who is as well-versed in our curriculum and as talented as Chef Martin is,” said Evan Morgan, Executive Director of the East Williamson County Higher Education Center. “In theory, this is his kitchen.”

When students leave the program with their Certificate 2 in Culinary Arts, Ellenberger wants them to be comfortable using knives, have an increased curiosity about food and have confidence in their skills.

Ellenberger’s goal, along with that of leaders at TSTC in Williamson County, is to see the program take advantage of the Austin area’s thriving culinary scene, where there is Thai, Chinese and Mexican cuisine, barbecue, Southern food and an assortment of food trucks.

The program will also enroll students in January for the Spring Semester. For more information, visit

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