Tag Archives: David Lewis

Truck driving academy gives students career opportunities in short time

April 26, 2012

By David Lewis | Ranger Reporter


The Amarillo College Truck Driving Academy gives students a way to learn a trade that provides a career with a steady income in a short period of time.

The academy provides training to help interested students earn their Class A Certified Drivers License in a course that takes place during a five-week period. The course includes 10 written exams followed by a driving exam in order to fulfill requirements to receive a Class A license that qualifies holders to drive semis and other forms of trailers.

“It’s a trade you can learn in five weeks that will can get you a job starting anywhere from $40,000 to about $45,000 per year,” said Robert Mathews, academy program director.

Courses begin every three weeks, with 15 courses offered each year. Up to 16 students are enrolled in each class. Classes take place 8 a.m. To 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

About 200 students graduate from the program annually. Jerry Terry, a faculty instructor for the academy, said the completion rate in the truck driving program is about 99.9 percent.

“Here, we don’t accept failure,” Mathews said. “Our job is to help the students find the way to graduate and receive their certifications.”

Janey Allmon, an administrative assistant, said now is a great time to join the program.

“Right now, the demand is huge for truck drivers,” Allmon said. “By completion of the academy, it is not only helping students, but the work force as well.”

Mathews said the academy is a means for those looking for a fresh start in a trade that offers many benefits.

“The academy gives you everything you need in a very short period of time,” Terry said. “After completing the course and receiving your license, you can sign on to drive with any company.”

Terry said this is the field for anyone looking to make good money in a short period of time.

“I’ve seen some people come in here having never made more than minimum wage and then after completion of the course and getting their first job, they are making around $70,000 a year,” Terry said. “It not only changes their lives, but the lives of their families, as it can open up new doors for them financially.”

Classes are full for the next six weeks, but anyone interested can learn more at the academy website, http://www.actx.edu/truck.

Students, listeners benefit from FM 90 variety

April 19, 2012

By David Lewis | Ranger Reporter

 Amarillo College’s FM90 provides listeners with a wide variety of shows throughout the week. Genres such as R&B, alternative rock, heavy metal and country can be found on the community college radio station.

The FM90 staff is comprised of AC students, all of whom have different interests in music.

“It’s different than any other college station or even radio stations here in town,” said Travis Kemp, an FM90 disc jockey and host of Sunday night’s show called “All That Jazz.”

“We don’t air any commercials. It’s  100,000 watts of commercial-free power. It’s a lot more laidback, and for those of us that host block shows, we even get to make our own playlists.”

Trey Holt, FM90 music director  and a mass communication major, said the station has a wide variety of shows, allowing for all to listen to their favorite genre of music at one time or another.

During the week, FM90 listeners can hear a lot of alternative rock from up-and-coming or under-the-radar bands.

Holt said the weekend’s playlist includes an R&B show on Saturday afternoons followed by the ”Tejano Throwback” in the evening. Sundays offer a total of eight different shows that include anything from country, blues and jazz to a show called “Putamayo,” which features music from countries around the world.

Andrew Henry, a student DJ and radio broadcast major, hosts the indie and all request shows from 8 p.m. to midnight Thursdays. He said it’s his fourth year to work for the station.

“It’s a fun, exciting job,” Henry said. “It’s a good radio station to be at. Being a college station, you can experiment and be in an atmosphere that is a lot different from being in a commercial station.”

Both Holt and Kemp said being student DJs and working with the station come with fun opportunities and perks.

“Sometimes we get free swag like key chains or bumper stickers or stuff like that,” Kemp said.

Holt said the DJs sometimes get free CDs from music companies or, in some cases, promotional CDs before the release date.

Henry said the freedom he has as a DJ is one of the best perks he gets working for FM90.

“I really enjoy getting to play what people really want to hear as opposed to what the higher-ups wan you to play,” he said.

“You have a lot more freedom, creativity and control over the station itself.”

Brian Frank, FM90 program director, said another benefit of working with the station is the preparation it gives students for life and their future careers.

“It really helps students express themselves in this environment,” Frank said. “It prepares students for public speech and helps them at any given moment when they are asked to present something in front of a crowd.”

Holt and Kemp agreed that the biggest perk provided by FM90 is the number of opportunities it provides for anybody interested in the radio or TV business.

“FM90 basically serves as a launching pad if you want to work in the radio-TV market,” Kemp said.

Kemp also works as a board operator with Cumulus Broadcasting. He said FM90 probably is one of the biggest reasons he was able to get that job.

“It’s something that really looks great on your resume,” Holt said. “Especially if you’re interested in getting into this field.”

Frank said the experience of working with the college station is something that benefits students in the long run.

“Working with college radio is just a wonderful experience,” he said.

Anyone interested in joining the FM90 team or getting involved in the radio-TV program can call Frank at  (806) 371-5287 or contact any faculty or staff member in the mass communication department.

Arbor day great time to ‘go green’

Photo courtesy of http://www.consulting-foresters.com/

April 11, 2012

By David Lewis | Ranger Reporter

“Going green” is a topic often discussed as the price of fuel continues to rise.
This year, April 27 marks Arbor Day, a national holiday that encourages and reminds all to care for the trees and to do whatever possible to take care of the environment.

“I guess it is pretty important when you really think about it,” said Amarillo College student Ashleigh Stevens. “We’re so accustomed to our fast-paced lives that we just forget sometimes how important it is to take care of the environment.”

Arbor Day is celebrated at different times all over the world. The day promotes the planting of trees and awareness of the welfare of the environment.
Not only does it teach the importance of caring for trees, but it helps many to understand the changes they can make to help the environment.

“I guess there are a few things I could change that would be more beneficial to the environment,” said AC student Jared Ross.

Ross said people could change little habits each day that not only would help the environment but mankind as well.

Changes in routine such as riding a bike for short distances instead of using a car not only can save people large amounts of money but also provide exercise that can be helpful to people in the long run.

Recycling is another method that many find to be productive in helping the environment. Benefits of recycling include prevention of wasted materials, reduction of energy usage and reduction of air and water pollution. Most products or materials consisting of paper, glass, plastic and metal can be recycled.

“I guess I could be better at recycling,” said AC student Kelsi Moore. “I’ve never really worried about it too much, but I guess it’s probably not that hard, really.”
Whether it be recycling, riding a bike, disposing of trash in the proper containers or even just the planting of a flower or tree, there are many different ways of “going green.”

Many may not realize the changes they can make or may not even have thought about the welfare of the environment in the past.
Perhaps this year during Arbor Day the words of the well-known Lorax will be better understood: “Yes, I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please.”

AC hosts regional Child Abuse Prevention Conference

March 28, 2012

By DAVID LEWIS | Ranger Reporter


The criminal justice programs are hosting the 12th annual Child Abuse Prevention Conference today to raise awareness of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“We are very excited about this conference,” said Pinkie Porcher, chairwoman of Child Abuse Advocates.

“We want awareness of child abuse kept out there to remind people that it’s a huge problem.”

Dr. James Garbarino, a psychologist and co-author of Parents Under Siege, will be the keynote speaker at the conference.

He has studied the topic of child abuse for more than 30 years and has authored and edited more than 20 books on the subject.

His speech will focus on the impact of trauma and past hardships in the life of young males.

Garbarino said in an email he wants to inform people of the gravity of the impact child abuse has on lives.

“Bringing light to this dark subject is my mission,” he said.

Porcher said that when looking for a speaker for the conference, the needs of the community were analyzed.

“Dr. Garbarino knows his stuff,” Porcher said.

Garbarino said he was inspired to study the issue of child abuse as he

learned about violence in war zones and American communities.

“I visited war zones around the world and began interviewing teens and young adults incarcerated for murder,” Garbarino said in an email.

He said his visits and interviews resulted in his 1999 book, Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and What We Can Do About It.

“I hope the attendees will understand that inside most violent men is an untreated, traumatized child,” Garbarino said.

He said he often works for the defense in death penalty cases and tries to help the judges and juries understand this point when making their decision if a murderer should receive the death penalty.

Eric Wallace, AC coordinator of intervention programs, said the Child Abuse Prevention Conferences are important because they teach the importance of awareness of the topic.

“It’s sad we offer topics like this, but we want it out there to continue to help people understand more the problems with these kids being abused in the community,” Wallace said.

Porcher said one of the main purposes of the conference is to provide information to those who work with children to help prevent child abuse.

“We want to continue to refresh their memories on this topic, and we want them to take Dr. Garbarino’s experience and share it with others and to apply it in their respective professions,” Porcher said.

The conference will be from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the West Campus Lecture Hall. Wallace said tickets are sold out.

“Everybody wants to go, and we feel that’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s an important message.”

Opinion: Political dogfight spares no person, religion

By David Lewis

Understand from the beginning that I don’t claim the right or the left. Politics never has interested me, nor has it ever seemed that my opinion would even matter, being from a state known as the reddest of the reds. Unfortunately, this year’s race for the Republican presidential nomination has hit a little too close to home to be able to avoid forming an opinion.

The emergence of Republican Mitt Romney as the party’s frontrunner has caused many to analyze the Massachusetts governor, but not for his policies or ideas as much as his religion.

Now as I said earlier, I don’t claim a political party; therefore, I’m not solely defending Romney or Republicans, but every person facing the religious bigotry being seen in this year’s campaign. Being a fellow member of Romney’s faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the more common public-given nickname, “Mormon” church, was what made me begin to form this opinion.

It was surprising and eye-opening for me to see how so much strategy is being used against Romney and fellow candidates solely based on their religious views. It seems all candidates are in a dogfight to downplay the others’ religion in an attempt to suggest that for that reason they are unqualified to be president of the United States of America.

I remember the 2008 presidential election, in which rumors were being spread of Obama being a Muslim. Many were terrified and alarmed by the thought that a Muslim would even set foot in the White House. After later finding out that he was indeed not a Muslim, I began to ask myself and question: What difference would it have made? Why would it even have mattered if he were a Muslim? Is it not the First Amendment that clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”?

Don’t get me wrong now; I’m just as opposed to having someone who believes in genocide or racism or any kind of inequality of man in any form lead the free world. But to question a person’s integrity based on their religion, whether it is Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, Mormon, Muslim or any other inspiring faith, is discouraging.

I don’t like politicians. I find them all to be liars and willing to say whatever it takes to get what they need. But I do believe in honorable men. If you disagree with their policies, fine. If you don’t agree with their ideas, it’s ok. Don’t let ignorance blind you from the issues that really matter, which are not religion or any other minor demographic. If nothing else, remember the inspiring words written in the Declaration of Independence by the founding fathers of this great country:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Students seeking law enforcement jobs get start at Amarillo College



February 29, 2012

By DAVID LEWIS | Ranger Reporter


The Panhandle Regional Law Enforcement Academy at Amarillo College offers students the training and hands-on experience necessary to become an officer in the state of Texas, further training for current officers and credit hours to count toward a criminal justice degree.

AC offers the Basic Peace Officer Academy. Classes are conducted on the West Campus, and practice drills and hands-on training take place on the East Campus.

This semester, two courses are being conducted at the academy. A full-time day course is running as roughly 24 students are on track to receive their certificates March 8, and 17 students are taking a part-time night class that began Jan. 17. They plan to graduate Aug. 23.

“The world is constantly becoming more and more violent, and we feel that annually, our training is improving as well to get officers ready and prepared for the danger that really is out there,” said Bryan Flatt, an academy instructor and a corporal for the Borger Police Department.

Toni Gray, director of the criminal justice department, said the academy is challenging and time-consuming. Daytime students attend classes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and evening students attend from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Gray said the percentage of students who attend the academy who graduate and go on to get jobs is high. She said the graduation rate easily is 90 percent and that those who go on to obtain jobs also is roughly 90 percent.

The success rate is evident in the number of local police officers who have attended AC’s academy, Gray said. Amarillo Police Department applicants are required to go through APD’s academy, but AC’s academy provides further training for officers and officers-in-training.

Flatt said many applicants to the program work with agencies and are in the program to receive the training necessary to become patrol officers.

Alex Chancia, coordinator of criminal justice programs and the Law Enforcement Academy, said students who graduate earn a certificate, equal to 24 hours of academic credit broken down into five courses. Those 24 hours can go toward a 66-hour criminal justice degree.

Gray said the certificate qualifies graduates to be a police officer in the state of Texas, while the degree makes them eligible for a promotion or employment in federal departments.

After completing the academy, students have three chances to pass the state test to become a police officer before they are required to retake the course.

Training in the program includes learning to use handcuffs and other equipment. Flatt said the students are put through various scenarios to learn how to react in certain situations.

Both Chancia and Flatt said the students go through rigorous training to receive their certificates. Flatt said that because of the importance of law enforcement to society, professionalism is one of his strongest points of emphasis in the academy.

“We have to understand that in this line of work, everything can change in a split second, and someone’s life could depend on it,” Flatt said.