Abbarno joins 20th District seatmates for tour of Centralia College’s new Southwest Flexible Training Center

A 12,000 square-foot building housing various trades training courses is now open for students at Centralia College. Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, joined his 20th District seatmates, Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and Sen. John Braun, also R-Centralia, on Wednesday morning to tour the new Southwest Flexible Training (SWFT) Center.

Abbarno was involved from the start when ground was broken on the new training facility in March 2020.

“Our community, region, and state are in a better position to meet the current and future needs of our students, workers, and employers because of the SWFT Center,” said Abbarno. “The mascot at Centralia College is Blazer Bill — a Trailblazer — and that's exactly what the college is doing — blazing a trail of opportunities in our community. It is identifying and meeting the needs in our current workforce and industry leaders, and meeting the needs of our career- and college-bound students ready to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

A $1.3 million private grant was provided in February 2019 to help with construction, which was completed earlier this year and began accepting students on a limited basis in the spring. The SWFT Center has three classrooms that can be multi-use and will house the Commercial Driver's License simulator and the forestry simulator. One of the three classrooms will be used for health care courses, such as EMT and CPR training. There will also be a large concrete-floored space in the back of the building big enough to house large pieces of specialized equipment for various courses. The center also has a mobile classroom for career and technical education students that will travel around the region.

As a member of the House Capital Budget Committee, Abbarno helped to secure $512.3 million in the statewide community college system, including $3.4 million for a teacher education and family development center, and other improvements at Centralia College. In addition, he co-sponsored House Bill 1536, relating to establishing regional apprenticeship programs through educational service districts; sponsored the USA amendment during the 2021 session that would have invested in apprenticeships and trade training programs; and fought successfully against House Bill 1084 that would have been a job killer to the trades. 

“Successful communities start with a quality education that addresses the needs of students and employers, and looks beyond just current needs,” added Abbarno. “The SWFT Center is part of the foundation we need to be successful in Lewis County and Southwest Washington.”

The 20th District lawmakers were accompanied during Wednesday's tour by Centralia College President Bob Mohrbacher, Centralia College Foundation Director Christine Fossett, Dean of Instruction Jay Fay, and several others.

Sen. John Braun, Rep. Peter Abbarno and Rep. Ed Orcutt stand with Centralia College President Bob Mohrbacher in front of the mobile classroom that is part of the new Southwest Flexible Training Center at Centralia College.
Rep. Peter Abbarno, middle right, talks to staff during a tour of the new Southwest Flexible Training Center at Centralia College on Wednesday, July 14.
Nursing training facilities are part of the offerings of the new Southwest Flexible Training Center at Centralia College.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov