Going green continues to bring praise and attention to the Wyoming County Career and Technical Center.
U.S. Department of Education officials visited the campus last Tuesday during a tour of Green Ribbon School winners.
WCCTC was in the first group of state schools ever to receive the designatation.
“This is our second best practices tour,” said Andrea Suarez Falken, director of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. “This year, we’re starting in West Virginia.”
While many of the schools honored lack resources, “our schools are resourceful,” Falken commented.
She often mentions Wyoming County when she spreaks around the country, she told those who gathered at the school’s conference school.
“This is a huge springboard for the whole state,” commented Vicki Fenwick of West Virginia Sustainable Schools. “You should be really, really proud of what you’ve done.”
Terry Tilley, energy management director for Wyoming County since 2004, told officials that he can check the temperature in any classroom in any school building whether he is at work or at home.
“We’re probably the only county in the state that can do that,” he stated.
In making buildings more energy efficient, the school system’s Cost Avoidance Program (CAP) has resulted in about $3 million in savings, Tilley indicated.
“These people (at WCCTC) are continually improving,” stated Board of Education President Michael Prichard.
Sheila Mann, director of the WCCTC, said the school is now under consideration for recognition as a sustainable school.
“We won’t know what they decide until they get their visits finished,” she remarked.
“The lady who spearheaded (the Green Ribbon program) was Andrea Falken, and Vickie Fenwick is the one who got us started,” Mann noted.
Fenwick knew the work Tilley was doing, Mann said, “and they asked us to take part (in the Green Ribbon School program).”
Mann and Tilley attended grant writing sessions and submitted information to the state.
The state selected WCCTC and three others for consideration at the national level.
“When I went Washington D.C. (for the awards ceremony), I felt like I was with a celebrity,” Mann commented. “Everybody wanted to talk to Terry.”
“It’s always good to get (feedback) that you’re doing a good job,” Tilley stated.
He said the Board of Education deserved credit for the program’s success. “When I started, the board had already been active in energy management,” he pointed out.
Tilley estimated that the school system could save about $5 million in energy costs over the next 10 years.
Business partners have been a big help, according to Mann. There are an estimated 25 to 30 business partners on the advisory committees for the school and for individual programs.
Mann says the WCCTC “is planning on expanding what we’re doing. We have short term and long term goals.
“A lot of schools will do green projects,” she observed. “We want these kids (at our school) to be able to apply their knowledge to real life situations. In the future, there will be a lot of jobs in sustainability.
“Some colleges are developing programs in those areas,” Mann added.
Several elected officials at the state and county level attended last Tuesday’s event.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.