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Podcast: Porter County Career Center delivers on multiple ValpoNEXT initiatives

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Jon Groth, taken by John J. Watkins by the NWI Times

ValpoNEXT Coordinator Kathy Sipple speaks with Jon Groth at the Porter County Career Center about its programs and successes. This organization is available to every junior and senior high school student in Porter County. It offers a myriad of programs intended to give students a taste of many job fields as well as introduce essential training techniques. The PCCTC is focused on industries and employment, and it gives students a way to demonstrate learned skills to potential employers. With a focus on real-world career readiness, the PCCTC knows that not every student is destined for a four-year university and offers a different approach to entering the workforce. Their website explains the 35+ programs available, as well as the different initiatives underway. Groth explains several ways the Career Center has gone greener in the past decade, and discusses a recent project to save the historic Valparaiso Grand Trunk Railroad Depot.

Transcript Notes

  • The ValpoNEXT initiative 2D is focused on student readiness.

The Porter County Career Center is available to every student in every Porter County high school. It offers 35 different programs, such as automotive technician work, health occupations pre-nursing, welding, machine trades, and more.

  • This program is tied to industry and employment.
    • There is a competency based certificate program that lists the skills they can perform.
    • There are awards for outstanding students, excellent students, work ethic, and honors programs.
  • Students learn how to write resumes, interview skills practice, and a LinkedIn profile.
  • The Porter County Career Center website has several videos that explain how this program helps prepare its students for the workforce.
  • The Career Center allows students to try out their potential field of work before leaving high school and either going to college, undergoing more training, or entering the workforce.
    • They are also connected and prepared to get further training in order to be prepared for specific jobs.
    • Students can avoid college debt and obtain solid employment opportunities through the Porter County Career Center.
  • After the education budget was cut, the program needed to find ways to save money. They began turning off lights and devices when not in use, which saved them 10{efe19b6e533915bb0f311f21b6334ede7e6be12ea8cb05defd5c5546279f1067} in the first year.
    • Now, they use LED lights instead of fluorescent which saved $10/year/fixture (as calculated by the students).
    • Lights now have motion detectors so that they are only on when people are present to use them.
  • Preserved the Valparaiso Grand Trunk Railroad Depot, built in 1912.
    • Moved the historic building to the Porter County Career Center campus in order to preserve it for future generations.

Getting Involved!

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Podcast: Valparaiso neighborhood survey- we want your input! With Thais Carter

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Jesse-Pifer neighborhood members plant trees

ValpoNEXT Sense of Place Community Action Committee leader Thais Carter wants to learn what residents think is important about building community in neighborhoods. In this episode she speaks with ValpoNEXT coordinator, Kathy Sipple, about the new survey created by Carley Lemmon, Assistant Planner for the City of Valparaiso.

This survey is a tool to help capture the variety of neighborhood activities present in Valparaiso, as well as determine ways to measure this engagement. The Sense of Place initiative is tied to these actions, focusing on measures to name and brand neighborhoods as well as developing a “Love your Neighborhood” program. Carter then discusses a potential city-wide block party, and explains how this communication and connection between neighbors is an extension of civic engagement.

Valparaiso residents are invited to share their ideas using this link. << CLICK HERE >>

Transcript Notes

  • Valparaiso has strong neighborhood identities, especially in historic and older neighborhoods.
  • Creating a survey asking residents about the people and places that resonate in their neighborhoods and how they participate.
    • Learn about the different things each neighborhood is active in.
    • Create indicators to develop a neighborhood toolkit
  • Sense of Place Initiative
    • Naming and branding neighborhoods.
    • Developing a “Love your Neighborhood” program.
  • No matter where you live in the city, your neighborhood’s sense of place matters, too.
  • Survey was created by Carley Lemmon, a Ball State graduate who has returned to Valpo in order to give back to her home.
  • Trying to create a community-wide block party.
    • Jesse-Pifer/Memorial neighborhood is an example of a neighborhood that is already throwing block parties.
    • Create a template for a city-wide block party in partnership with the Park’s department.
    • Take place at 5 parks throughout the city at the same time with food, music, and activities.
    • Celebrate what it means to be a neighbor in Valparaiso.
    • Build strong connections as neighbors and fellow citizens.
  • Civic engagement
    • Voting, showing up to meetings, etc.
    • ALSO learning to know your neighbors.
  • ValpoNEXT Twitter

Getting Involved!