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Technology for education big topic of discussion as U.S. senator visits SoBo

The talk was technology and workforce training Friday afternoon.

U. S. Sen. Tim Kaine stopped by for a brief tour of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center on Friday afternoon after he had visited Bedford County and Danville.

During his visit to the SVHEC that offers educational services and workforce training to local Virginians, Kaine spoke with employees about the center’s efforts to help individuals, particularly those living in rural areas, develop advanced technical skills and grow a talented workforce in the region.

He discussed the importance of workforce training programs that will increase hiring and help Southside lead the way in a 21st century economy. 

Halifax Regional Health System President Chris Lumsden was one of the first to welcome Kaine Friday telling him “thank you for what you do.”

The guided tour by Chief Financial and Operations Officer Patty Nelson included viewing classrooms, the R&D Center and the Center for Nursing Excellence.

“We just finished preparing school nurses for going back to school,” said Ann Switzer, associate director of Center for Nursing Excellence.

School nurses have to be trained on procedures of dispensing the Epipen shots to students. The nurses in the program work with simulated mannequins to learn techniques, including live birth.

“It’s amazing how much this has revolutionized the training,” said Kaine.

“Yeah, when I was in school we were still learning on oranges,” said Switzer.

While visiting the R&D Center, Director of Research and Development David Kenealy pointed out some of the projects the center and students have worked on and completed.

Along with describing the energy efficient and healthy living ecoMod housing projects, Kenealy showed Kaine the award winning wooden chairs that were made by students along with clocks and a light that were created and manufactured as well as where plans were drawn for their distribution.

“Our focus is on technology investing … It’s all about the workforce,” said Kenealy.

At the end of the tour, the senator visited the R&D Center and its employees where projects are manufactured.

Then he was taken to a classroom where he answered questions.

Nelson told Kaine she was frustrated because the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center doesn’t get a lot of grant opportunities because the facility doesn’t grant degrees.

“I guess I’m just asking that legislation be tweaked a little,” added Nelson. “Education is changing so dramatically.” 

She also asked Kaine to check on the status of a Department of Agriculture grant they were awarded last fall for a welding lab that has yet to be awarded.

 “I’ll certainly look into that,” Kaine said.