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COCC board and officials celebrate opening of electric charging stations and conduct meeting.

HOLLY M. GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - From left to right, Joe Mazarella, of Sunlight Solar, Diane Hodiak, of 350 Deschutes, Matthew Chancellor, of Pacific Power, and Laurie Chesley, COCC president, cut the ribbon Sept. 11, on the two new charging stations for electric vehicles at the Madras COCC campus.
Members of the Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors came for a ribbon-cutting for two new electric charging stations at the Madras campus, but stayed for a regular board meeting Sept. 11.

Prior to the meeting, partners involved in installation of the charging stations — the COCC Sustainability Committee, 350Deschutes, installer Sunlight Solar, and Pacific Power, which funded the project — showcased the two new Level 2 ChargePoint charging ports, located in the Madras campus parking lot.

Following dinner, the board met for an update on education at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, and the Madras campus.

HOLLY M. GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - Jay Sklenar, the new director of education at DRCI, discusses the prison's education programs.The new director of education at DRCI, Jay Sklenar, who was formerly an adjunct math professor at the Madras COCC campus, said that there are currently 920 adults in custody at the DRCI minimum-security prison.

Of those, 100-150 are adult basic skills or GED students. The prison has two GED instructors, one administrative assistant, and one GED test administrator.

"Inmates work one-on-one with the instructors, at their pace," he said. "Last year, we were third in the state (prison system) with 88 graduates."

In just the last two months, 18 inmates have graduated. "They're highly dedicated," said Sklenar, adding that the program is very successful.

The DRCI prison offers a welding program in a 2,500-square-foot building, which accepts 10 students every 10 months. About 50 inmates apply to get on the waiting list for those 10 positions.

Matt McCoy, vice president of administration for COCC, gave an update on the Madras campus, noting that there are 24 credit classes offered fall term, including everything from Native American language classes to business communication to math literacy.

Enrollment numbers have been declining college-wide, he said. To help more students, COCC offers face-to-face financial advisors, a Native American coordinator once a week, and campus academic advisor and placement services.

In attendance at the meeting, School District 509-J Superintendent Ken Parshall confirmed that he is interested in expanding the district's relationship with COCC, to help teachers prepare students for college.

If the district offered more college credits, he noted, "Maybe more students would have an interest in continuing."

COCC is also in the proccess of obtaining accreditation, which will help with student grants and loans, and transferability of credits, according to Betsy Julian, vice president for instruction.

The college's last full accreditation visit was in 2012, and staff members are now preparing for the next full visit in April 2020.


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