Calendar focuses on career training
by Daniel Gaddy
Jan 03, 2011 | 1787 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local students are featured throughout the new calendar released by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County. (Photo Special to the Eagle)
Local students are featured throughout the new calendar released by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County. (Photo Special to the Eagle)
The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County recently started distribution of its calendar aiming to career training among residents and literacy among local students.

"This has been a win/win for local businesses, parents and the school system," said Linda Lewis, president of the chamber.

Each month in the calendar depicts a group of kids reading at the workplace of a local professional. For example, October has a group of children reading with officers from the Jasper Fire Department and January has another group reading with the pastor of Jasper's First Baptist Church. A small blurb at the bottom of each picture describes the job and also includes the average salary for the position.

Lewis said the portion of the program promoting literacy has a simple explanation. Students who read more score higher on achievement tests. But she said the calendar also touts the opportunities available to residents for professional and technical training outside typical four-year universities.

"We're hoping to educate the parents that, if you are qualified in a particular skill, this is what you could be making," she said.

Lewis said chamber officials realize a four-year degree from a university is not possible or even ideal for many citizens in the county. However, that does not mean they cannot find training for a productive career, she said.

She said the calendars are handed out in all middle grade schools in the county. Residents can also request them at the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County office.

The calendars are part of the chamber's "Focus Walker County" campaign. The project is a five-year plan, ending in 2011, that seeks to bolster economic prosperity in the area through four major initiatives: workforce development, legislative advocacy, tourism and growth in retail business.

Lewis said the chamber raised more than $1 million to fund the initiatives.

Aside from the calendar, Lewis said officials with the chamber are also excited about the group's "Chamber Checks" program. Already in it's second year, the project allows residents to purchase vouchers that can be redeemed at local businesses.

Lewis said "Chamber Checks" not only help to support local vendors but also keep tax revenue in the county. The project reemerged during the week of Thanksgiving and has already received more purchases than all of last year, she said.

"I'm very pleased with how receptive the community is to keeping their dollars local," she said.