Representatives of area marinas turned out to show their support for the new Marine Academy at Ticonderoga High School. From left are Mike Graney, Ti High principal, Scott Andersen of FR Smith and Sons Marina in Bolton, Roger Phinney, executive director of the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association, Bernie Hill of EZ Marine and Storage in Brant Lake, Bob Palandrani of Snug Harbor Marina in Ticonderoga and Rich Stolen of Schroon Lake Marina and Loon Lake Marina.
Good help is hard to find, especially if you operate a marina.
“There just aren’t enough marine technicians to fill all the jobs we have available,” explained Roger Phinney, executive director of the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association. “We have jobs. We want to hire people. We just can’t find them.”
That’s why Phinney’s group and marina owners from the region are supporting the new Marine Academy being established at Ticonderoga High School in its newly-constructed, state-of-the-art technology center.
Slated to open next September, the Marine Academy will be operated by Champlain Valley Tech and be available to students from Glens Halls to Plattsburgh. A two-year program, it will be limited to 13 students — and marina owners can’t wait until the first class graduates.
“We’ll be fighting for them,” Rich Stolen, owner of Schroon Lake Marina and Loon Lake Marina, said. “Those 13 kids will have no problem finding work.”
The program was outlined during a presentation to school officials and students from Lake George, Bolton, Whitehall, Moriah, Crown Point and Ticonderoga Nov. 18. Also attending were representatives of FR Smith and Sons Marina in Bolton, Schroon Lake Marina, Loon Lake Marina, Yankee Boating Center in Diamond Point, Performance Marine in Bolton, EZ Marine and Storage in Brant Lake and Snug Harbor Marina in Ticonderoga.
Bob Palandrani, owner of Snug Harbor Marina in Ticonderoga and a member of the Ti school board, has been instrumental in the development of the Marine Academy. He stressed the program is about much more than mechanics.
“We’re talking about mechanics, fiber glass, painting, welding, woodworking, computers, sales, marketing, everything,” he said. “If a student’s not interested in becoming a mechanic that’s fine, there are a lot of other job opportunities.”
Many of those jobs, he pointed out, are year-round, full-time opportunities.
John McDonald, Ticonderoga school superintendent, said the marine program makes sense for his school.
“I’m very excited about this program,” McDonald said. “Talking to the guys in the field, you realize there is a real need for well-trained employees. And it makes sense. Ticonderoga is the only community with free access to both Lake George and Lake Champlain.”
Phinney agreed, noting the Mossy Point boat launch on Lake George will be a key part of the new program.
The marina representatives stressed the availability of jobs and the need for the Marine Academy.
“We need people,” Phinney said. “They don’t all have to be marine technicians. We have a lot of jobs that don’t require a master technician.”
Palandrani agreed. He pointed out Snug Harbor, between two locations on Lake George, hired 35 employees this past summer.
Scott Andersen, manager of FR Smith and Sons Marina in Bolton, said he has been in contact with major marine manufacturers such as Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude and Volvo. He believes those companies will support the the Ticonderoga Marine Academy by providing specialized tools, training materials and computer access.
“Hopefully we can get to the point where kids can leave here with manufacture’s certification,” Andersen said. “They (manufacturers) realize the need to have young people in the industry and the need for trained technicians.”
Andersen hopes the Ti academy can reach an arrangement with a local college to offer an associates degree program in marine technology.
Andersen also believes the Marine Academy can also expand in the future to train adult technicians. The nearest Mercury training center is in New Hampshire, he noted, and the nearest Yamaha training center is in Georgia.
“When we send someone for training it becomes very expensive,” Palandrani said. “You’re talking transportation, hotels, meals. It would be great to have training available right here.”