published Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Tool company makes massive donation to Coffee County Central High School

Coffee County Central High School senior Carlos Hernandez clamps material into a new horizontal metal saw in Jeff Hinshaw's class. The saw is among  pieces of equipment donated by Walter Meier Manufacturing Inc. in LaVergne, Tenn.
Coffee County Central High School senior Carlos Hernandez clamps material into a new horizontal metal saw in Jeff Hinshaw's class. The saw is among pieces of equipment donated by Walter Meier Manufacturing Inc. in LaVergne, Tenn.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
CLASS NOTES

Name: Coffee County Central High School

Principal: Joey Vaughn

Grades: Seventh through 12th

Students: 1,700

Staff members: 120

Address: 100 Red Raider Drive, Manchester, TN 37355

A donation of thousands of dollars worth of state-of-the-art mechanical equipment will give students at Coffee County Central High School an edge seeking jobs in manufacturing industries.

"It almost doubles the capacity of what I can do in my shop with my kids," said Jeff Hinshaw, machining and manufacturing instructor at the school in Manchester, Tenn.

Hinshaw is still getting some of the newly donated equipment up and running, but already it's generating some excitement among the 108 students enrolled in his classes, he said.

Local Chamber of Commerce officials were able to establish a relationship with Walter Meier Manufacturing's facility in La Vergne, Tenn., en route to the donation of equipment, he said.

"These are brand new pieces of equipment. There are two metal lathes that you turn round steel and other metals on," Hinshaw said. "And there are three horizontal band saws for cutting steel."

Hinshaw said the equipment is probably worth at least $30,000.

The school already has some older woodworking equipment, but its application to the job market is limited, officials said.

The new equipment is intended for a "manual machinist" to use, meaning a person skilled in working on the specialized machines with their hands, Hinshaw said.

"There's no computer that runs it. These are things that are done by hand. When you need things done by hand on things that are broken, you still have to have a manual machinist to do that. Those are a dying breed," he said. "The precision machinist is all but gone."

Walter Meier Manufacturing Inc. is part of the worldwide firm of the same name that has about 2,000 employees. The company produces the Jet, Powermatic and Wilton tool brands. About 125 employees work at the La Vergne facility, according to The Tennessean's report on a recent corporate acquisition.

Bob Varzino, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the company, could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Coffee County Central High School principal Joey Vaughn said the equipment can prepare students who are interested in metalworking a taste of what it's like to use the latest equipment.

"It's given us an opportunity to put updated equipment in the hands of our learners so they'll be ready to go into the workforce," Vaughn said. "We want to have students that are well-prepared for everything that they decide to do. It sets our students up to experience state-of-the-art equipment in a work environment."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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