Instead of dwelling on the past, David Goode is taking control of his future through the help of Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
Goode, 48, of East Point in Johnson County, was laid off by James River Coal in January after spending a year working as a shift mechanic at the Long Fork and Bevins Branch surface mines. He entered the mining industry an unconventional way. While his grandfather and great-grandfather mined coal, he grew up in Florida and worked many years in the construction industry in Brunswick, Ga.
That’s when the housing market collapsed in 2008. He returned to coalfields because of family ties and the lure of working in the coal industry. A year later, Goode became a statistic, joining nearly 5,000 eastern Kentucky residents to lose their jobs in the coal industry.
“At that point you have a choice: You can either become a statistic or you can evolve with the times,” he said. “I chose to change, to learn a new skill and to make myself marketable in the new economy.”
Goode enrolled at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. Thanks to the HOME (Hiring our Miners Everyday) program, administered through the federally-designated Workforce Investment Board — Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. — Goode got his books and tuition paid for, and he’s pursuing a career in electrical technology.
“It’s a chance for a new beginning, and I have a lot more work left in me,” he said. “It’s something I have always been interested in, and I hope to gain a job I can stay in long term in eastern Kentucky.”
C.W. Vanhoose, an instructor in the electrical technology program on the Mayo campus of BSCTC, said students like Goode are driven to succeed.
“They’ve been there and done that… They approach it with a great desire to learn,” he said. “These miners have no choice, as they want to take care of their families.”
Goode laughs when describing his class. “I’m the oldest one in there, but I can do just about anything, including browsing the Internet on my phone.”
Approaching college much later in life can be intimidating, said Goode. His first couple of days consisted of spending time in Adult Education to brush up on math skills.
“The college has so many resources, like Adult Education, to make the transition smooth and ensure success,” Goode said. “Just as in life, if you want it bad enough, you can get it.”
Goode hopes to find a position with a local electrical utility or natural gas company. “We have the skills to make it,” he continued. “We just have to be willing to learn.”
To learn more about Big Sandy Community and Technical College’s technical programs, visit bigsandy.kctcs.edu.
For more information on the HOME initiative, visit ekcep.org.