Photo:  Thera Celestine, director of community and workforce development at Lamar State College Orange, stands next to the custom process trainer purchased with a grant from Texas Workforce Commission.

Dave Rogers / For The Record

The grant writers at Lamar State College Orange have been busy. And successful.

The school welcomed Aaron Demerson, commissioner of the Texas Workforce Commission on Thursday, Jan. 23 to join in a celebration to celebrate two grants from TWC totaling more than $650,000.

“How exciting is that?” was the rhetorical question asked by Tom Johnson, LSCO president.

The two grants will be used to educate and train students and local employees on the latest skills needed in the petrochemical industry.

Demerson presented a Skills Development Fund grant for a partnership with Arlanxeo for $467,816 and a Jobs and Education for Texans grant worth $184,908.

The bigger grant will provide training for more than 300 of Arlanxeo’s employees, with the majority of the training to be taught by LSCO.

“Some of it’s done here, some of it’s done at Arlanxeo and some of it’s done off-site,” explained Thera Celestine, director of community and workforce education at LSCO.

“All companies already pay for training for their employees. The state of Texas allocates $42 million every two years for this type of training.”

The second grant allowed LSCO to purchase custom training equipment that is used by students in the Industrial Technology program.

The equipment mirrors the same equipment that students will operate once they graduate and work in local petrochemical facilities.

“It’s very simple,” Earl Geis, Process Tech program chair, explained the process trainer built by Bayport. “There are two pumps on it, and you can use either and pump water through a variety of piping.

“You can control the flow and control the pressure.

“We can use it to train not only operators but instrument technicians.”

Arlanxeo, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Chem32 and Dow each contributed to paying the local match needed to purchase the process trainer, Celestine said.

“Any time you have other businesses pitch in on a grant, it helps,” she said.

Dr. Thomas Johnson, president of Lamar State College Orange, and Thera Celestine, director of community and workforce development, show off posters of the checks the college received totaling more than $650,000 in grants from the Texas Workforce Commission.