Maine center to provide log truck training for high schoolers

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Updated Dec 8, 2018
A high school student at Tri-County Technical Center practices driving a truck. (Image Courtesy of Tri-County Technical Center)A high school student at Tri-County Technical Center practices driving a truck. (Image Courtesy of Tri-County Technical Center)

A CDL training program for high school students in Maine is adding an innovative logging module to its program to help meet a demand for log truck drivers in the state.

Tri-County Technical Center’s high school CDL training program hosts 20-24 juniors and seniors each school year. The center decided to launch a log truck training module, which will be an add-on to the existing program, to meet a local demand for log truck drivers.

“It’s not going to take anything away from the existing program. It’s actually going to add to it and make it at a higher level,” said Vicki Kimball, the center’s CDL instructor. “That’s a tough job. It’s a lot different than just pulling a dry van or flatbed trailer. It’s a completely different animal.”

The logging module will be able to accommodate 10 students when it first launches. Kimball said they are able to offer more extensive training because they have the students for a full school year.

“We’re lucky because we have them for an entire school year. We can go beyond what most adult programs would ever do,” said Kimball, who has been an instructor at the center for 11 years.

The center’s existing program prepares students for the knowledge and driving tests. Students are also able to receive behind the wheel driving experience. The logging module will expand upon that to teach students how to operate a loader, load and unload logs, log yard safety, and more.

“A lot of their behind the wheel training will be in a log truck, be moving wood, chaining, as much off road as we can manage,” Kimball said of the logging module.

The State of Maine licenses below the age of 18, Kimball said, so students who graduate from the program can get their licenses at 17 years old and begin driving intrastate.

“They can’t drive over the road. That’s a federal regulation. But they can drive intrastate, and they do. A lot of these kids get really good jobs,” Kimball said.

The technical center is currently looking for an instructor to teach the logging module. The logging module will become available once a suitable instructor is hired. Kimball said safety is the program’s top priority.

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“We’re definitely going to be pretty choosy about this. We want it to happen but we don’t want it to happen so badly that we don’t hire the right person,” Kimball said.