College Courses Return To Tonto Basin

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When the Kiwanis Club of Tonto Basin saw a need for trade classes in their town they did something about it.

"I had said to Al (Adams) it would be really great if we could educate the kids that haven't graduated high school, to give them a chance to make a living other than working at McDonald's," said Kiwanis member, Mary Loges.

Last year, five area students graduated from an HVAC (heating and air conditioning) class Kiwanis sponsored, donating its building and some supplies.

"I started with 10 students and most of them had been in trouble with the law at one time or another," said Al Adams, owner of Loralco Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration in Tonto Basin and a Kiwanis member.

Over three hours a night for a year Adams taught his students the skills needed to work on heating and air conditioning systems.

"Adams taught for a dollar a day and Kiwanis took care of paying for the supplies," GCC Payson campus dean, Harry Swanson said.

"The dollar covered my ink cartridges and the paperwork that came off the Internet," Adams said.

Of the five HVAC graduates, four are working in the trade, one in Texas and three for Adams' company.

"That's worth a lot," Adams said. "The program has helped me as much as it has them."

He will be teaching the class again this August as Gila Community College builds on last year's success.

Communication between community leaders, ex-Tonto Basin Chamber of Commerce president Jerry Miles, new chamber president Allen Carpenter, Tonto Basin School principal Johnny Ketchem, Swanson, Adams and Kiwanis members first gave rise to the possibility of continuing the program.

The class will meet two evenings a week for four hours a night. Teaching duties will be shared between Adams and Jerry DuBois. DuBois' current day job is with the forestry service, but when he lived in Indiana, HVAC was his profession.

The class will be held in the Kiwanis building in Tonto Basin. Times and dates will be announced.

The first semester will be HVAC theory; the second a hands-on learning experience.

Because Adams is a contractor he has over 30 pieces of equipment, any one of which he is willing to make available for the class.

The gain for students of having the HVAC class through GCC is that upon completion students are eligible for a state certification and license in refrigerant handling.

The college also plans to offer a "computers for beginners" class that will be held at the Tonto Basin School. Time, day and location (most likely at the Tonto Basin Public School) are yet to be determined.

Potential students interested in signing up for classes or are looking for financial aid are invited to attend orientation at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, at the Kiwanis Building in Punkin Center (on old Highway 188, just south of the post office).

-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail clavalley@payson.com.

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