Abram Silva, Watco plant supervisor, operates a forklift as he and Steve Schwab, ground maintenance with ABM, load steel that Watco donated to the Junction City High School welding program onto a trailer Oct. 30.

A large donation of metal from Watco will save the Junction City High School welding class money and give its students additional training.

“The amount of metal that they donated matches what we would spend when we bought metal, and we buy metal once a year, so they probably have given us a year's worth of metal,” said Mike Gross, Career and Technical Education coordinator. “That saves us a significant amount of money.”

The donation consisted of a variety of types of metal including some that he would never have purchased because of the cost.

“We wouldn't buy a whole lot of the big high-pressure pipe,” Gross said. “Now we have some of that to play with. We've got round steel in there and some square tubing, and some angle iron. And then there's some sheet metal and flat metal.”

The welding program at JCH has three levels, about 100 to 125 students go through it each year. In the first class the students learn the basics of welding, from there they move up to projects. The metal will give students practice and improve their welding skills on.

“By the time the kids get up into welding three, we want them to do some more complex welding —vertical and some pipe welding, welding around corners and welding upside down,” Gross said. “That selection of material they gave us gives a whole lot of opportunities to let kids weld with material that's going to be similar to what they're going to be doing when they get a job.

At Watco the steel is what they used to repair rail cars, said Eric Franco-Velez, plant manager.

“We went through an inventory process a month or two ago where we took a look through our steel yard, and took take some of the stuff out of our inventory that we hadn't used in quite some time,” he said. “Over time, it just kind of sat in our yard. We haven't used the material in over a year.”

With knowledge of the JCHS welding classes they figured they could get it off their inventory and get it into the hands of people who could use it, he said. Although he wasn’t sure exactly how many pounds of steel they donated, it was lot.

“What I can tell you is that when the trailer was pulling out of here, the wheels looked like they were flat,” he said.

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