COLUMBIA — Dust clouds appeared and the sound of saws could be heard up and down Grampian Drive in west Columbia on Tuesday, July 6. Ten students in three groups used diamond-bladed saws and a jackhammer to remove damaged sections of a curb. A crew from the Public Works Department worked alongside the students on Grampian Drive to cut out the cracked curb.
A deal between the city and Columbia Builds Youth's Highway/Heavy Construction Program is giving students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. The new agreement increased the number of students from five to 10 who will work with Public Works employees on projects through out the city.
On June 7, the Columbia City Council voted to authorize the expansion of the existing internship program. Popularity of the program led to the expansion, said Gary Taylor, branch manager for Job Point Wilkes Center.
The students get to do a little bit of everything, said Marvin Tapp of the city's street department. The work includes replacing sidewalks to clearing brush.
Frank Eth, who has been an instructor for the program since November 2009, stressed the importance of the program with the city.
"There is only so much that you can get out of a book," Eth said.
As the student's traded off using the jackhammer to break up the damaged curb, Tapp stepped in to give pointers on how to use the equipment.
"The best part is many of the students have not been around the equipment before, come out here and realize that they can do it," Eth said.