Shelton State president visits Demopolis; looks to expand offerings

From left, Mike Fields, Dr. Cynthia Anthony, and Dr. Joye Jones. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

From left, Mike Fields, Dr. Cynthia Anthony, and Dr. Joye Jones. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

Dr. Cynthia Anthony kept a hectic pace Thursday as she visited educators, met with business leaders in the city and attended the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce celebration.

All that activity was part of her job as interim president of Shelton State Community College, a position she has held since Oct. 1. She is making the connections that will enable the college to work with, support and “expand opportunities for students in the Demopolis City Schools system,” said Anthony.

She also said they are looking at ways to communicate more effectively what the college has to offer not only students but residents of the Demopolis area.

Accompanying Anthony on her trip to Demopolis were Dr. Joye Jones, Dean of Instruction and Workforce Development, and Mike Fields, director of Workforce Outreach.

What got lots of attention, too, was the 65-foot-long 18-wheeler parked in front of the Alabama Power Office. The truck is one used by Shelton State for its Commercial Truck Driving School in Demopolis.

The truck used by Shelton State for Commercial Truck Driving School was on display Thursday in downtown Demopolis. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

The truck used by Shelton State for Commercial Truck Driving School was on display Thursday in downtown Demopolis. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

Truck driver training has been offered by the college for over a year. While the next session has its full complement of students, registration is open for the eight-week course beginning May 2.

Instructor Don Turpin, who drove for 26 years, trains students to be eligible to take the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam. He has traveled more than three million miles as a driver.

The truck on display is one of the latest designs: it has no gear shift. Fields said students drive it the first time they are on the road. However, before leaving the school, each student knows how to drive a rig with a gear shift.

Driver’s instruction has been held at the old New Era building on Cedar Street, but the big rigs have caused a lot of damage to the parking lot. Anthony said Shelton State has let the contract for a new driving range and education building in the Demopolis Industrial Park. The college plans to move its training to the new facility by October.

“We are very excited that the project is moving forward,” said Anthony.

Anthony expressed “how much we do appreciate the support from the City of Demopolis…and the Industrial Development Board and all who are helping us and partnering with us to make this driving range a reality.”

The program has no trouble finding students, said Jones. “If you want to work as a truck driver you can get a job as a truck driver after that eight-week program.”

During her visit to Demopolis Anthony met with superintendent of Demopolis schools, Kyle Kallhoff, and director of career tech, Adam Sealy, to discuss dual enrollment as well as other opportunities the school may offer students.

Anthony even suggested Shelton State may set up a summer camp-type program at the Demopolis Higher Education system for younger students.

The interim president has been a part of the two-year higher education system in the state for more than 25 years. Immediately before Shelton State she served as interim president at Enterprise State Community College.

“I can’t keep a job,” she joked.

“I enjoy what I do,” she continued. “If there is something that the chancellor trusts me to do to try to assist and help an institution become a better institution, then that’s what I do.”

Shelton State is trying to gauge what Demopolis residents would like to have offered in community education courses. The summer schedule, she said, will be released the first of March and will include credit, dual enrollment and community education courses.