Start Your Engines: Commercial Trucker Education Expands in Marion County

Three years after its inception, the Marion Technical College (MTC) Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) driving pad officially became an educational option for students enrolled in the Commercial Vehicle Driving program. The driving pad’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Friday, January 10th at Booster Stadium.

The pad is a part of the CDL program offered by Marion County Public Schools. The 320-hour program, offered through MTC, trains adults 21 and up with the goal of earning a license for commercial driving. The new training pad offers students a safe and dedicated space to train behind the wheel (driving and parking) large trucks.

The new pad was made possible in large part by $300,000 in Marion County School Board funding and $75,000 in donations from private enterprises including R+L Trucking, Capris Furniture, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, College of Central Florida, Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association, and the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP).

The driving program is considered a viable option for students that prefer technical colleges versus the traditional college path.

Mark Vianello, Career Technical Education executive director, Marion County Public Schools stood amongst the crowd of about 140 attendees.

“Today is a celebration. We’re here to do two things. We’re here to celebrate the opening of our CDL Driving Program and our driving pad,” Vianello said before his scheduled speech.

“But we’re also here to celebrate our partners that helped make all of this happen. Here today we have educators, local officials, state officials, representatives from economic development-CEP, work-force development-CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, and we’re all working together to help make Marion County a great place to live in, to be educated in and to conduct business in,” he added.

The celebration featured other guest speakers including Superintendent of Marion County Schools Dr. Heidi Maier.

“This event exemplifies the vision that we’ve had for the last few years, to create opportunities,” Maier said. “Opportunities not only for our community, but opportunities for every student. Every student has a gift, something to bring out to the world.”

The event also included displays from Belleview High School’s Robotics Department and food prepared by Marion County Schools culinary students.

President and CEO of CEP Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership Kevin Sheilley thanked and joked with the crowd.

“This is about partnerships. But know this is about many, many people coming together. It’s not being territorial. It’s how do we advance our community by working together,” Sheilley said from the podium.

“Our role [CEP] is really to facilitate, to bring everyone to the table and to make sure we have a really nice day like today to do this ribbon cutting,” he said.

Since the official start of the CDL program, eight student classes have graduated.

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