HOWARD — Training at its best for Ohio’s construction laborers is found right here in Knox County, as witnessed Monday on a tour of the Drexel J. Thrash Training Center, 25721 Coshocton Road, Howard. Knox County Commissioners Teresa Bemiller and Roger Reed along with State Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl and other officials from the five-county district of Local Union No. 1216 received the invitation to get a close-up look at the workings of the local training facility.
Executive director Bob Chatterson conducted the tour, explaining how individuals learn the skills of a Construction Craft Laborer through the Ohio Laborers Apprenticeship Program. Training is made possible through a collective bargaining agreement between the Laborers International Union of North America and the local unions which establishes a Training and Apprenticeship Fund. “We’re the lowest-funded training center in the U.S.,” said Chatterson. “We get the most out of what we have.”
The Thrash Center is one of 70 similar centers in the United States which trains labor apprentices in union construction. Having traveled to numerous centers, “We’re in the top two in the U.S. as far as training success,” Chatterson said. “We’re taking in more apprentices and trying to lower the average age in trying to get the best trainees out there.”
Constructed in 1977 and dedicated in 1978, the facility sits on 119 acres and includes a 6,000-square-foot, 70-student dormitory with six classrooms, administrative offices, kitchen and cafeteria and four-bay maintenance and training area. A tunnel and gunite building houses three hardrock tunnels which provide a controlled environment for hands-on training in both the tunnel and gunite classes.