I’d like to talk about what is happening on our Economic Development Commission. We’re in the process of developing a website that will be used to promote Torrington to businesses and aid in convincing them to move here. We have a municipal website, but unfortunately it is only built to display meeting minutes and agendas among other things. This particular project is very important to me because I believe for Torrington to succeed in any type of economic development we need to have an online presence. Right now, when one ‘Googles’ Torrington, the town of Torrington, Wyoming (population 6,500) comes up before any of our official city websites. A website that lists the available buildings and properties that potential businesses can move into, important information about our diverse and capable workforce and incentives that the city offers for new businesses will allow us to have a site that ‘rolls out the red carpet’ for new businesses to come to Torrington rather than other neighboring cities.
Another project that I’d like to work on in the long term is a project that keeps track of businesses that were thinking about moving here but then decided to move elsewhere. Looking at these ‘almost-successes’ and analyzing them could help us see why some businesses choose other cities over Torrington. It would also help us determine what future steps we need to take to get those businesses to Torrington! A quick and short example: if companies are saying no to Torrington because “it’s too far away” or because “it only has 36,000 people” we can stop them in their tracks and highlight Routes 8, 202 and 4 and also explain that Torrington is the hub of the entire county, an area of over 100,000 people! These steps will help us promote Torrington in the future and bring companies and jobs to our great city.
--Stephen Michna, Economic Development Commission
It's been one year since I wrote my first submission to this blog regarding my time on the Torrington Board of Education. Much has happened since I was sworn in this time last year, and it has been an exciting journey for me thus far. As of late, the School Improvement Committee has furthered its discussion regarding implementing a school learning community within our high school. A recent survey of current students showed significant interest in the medical field. The administration has begun to whittle down costs to a more exact figure for implementing a yearlong certified nursing assistant program. The latest numbers to come in show an estimate of approximately $1700 per pupil. This number is partially derived from taking the initial high cost of purchasing durable goods the first year and dividing it over an 8 year span. To me, this is money well spent. My wife became a CNA directly out of high school and was able to secure employment with a decent wage and benefits immediately. While working, she continued her education to become a registered nurse and is now pursuing a Master's Degree as an APRN. Her CNA certificate was the doorway to a rewarding career as a nurse. If our district can provide that same doorway for our students, then I feel that we would be heading in the right direction.
This past week, we heard from many instructors in the online learning program at the high school. It's heartening to see how passionate and dedicated these educators are. We also heard a personal story from an articulate honors student who was incredibly grateful for the opportunity the online program provides. She explained that a medical issue caused her to miss a portion of her ninth grade year. Without credit recovery through the online learning program, she stated that she would not have been able to graduate with her class. She shared her report card with all those in attendance, and we were able to see the remarkable grades this student received both online and in the classroom. She explained that the online program challenges her just as much as the traditional setting. As a current student at the University of Hartford taking online courses, I agree with her 100%. Yes, the setting, discipline, and structure are different, but it does not mean a diminished value by any means. I am a strong advocate for online learning, but it's important to note that online learning is not for every student. If that were the case, we could just simply sit every pupil in front of a computer screen all day. Rather, for some, it is an alternative; or better yet, a welcomed addition to the traditional setting. Without embracing this new approach, our district could be left behind as more and more high schools and colleges are adopting this standard.
--Vincent Merola, Board of Ed
Moving Torrington Forward