Roger Williams, Pam Boehm and Brian Bennett

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, left, leads a discussion with Hill College President Pam Boehm, center, and Hill College Dean of Instruction, Business and Industry Pathways Brian Bennett.

Whether it’s the biggest house in town or the smallest, when pipes burst or things back up everybody’s “trying to get hold of that plumber”, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, joked.

Williams discussed education and other matters during a Wednesday visit to the Cleburne Technical Center. The center, a Hill College campus, offers training, certifications and degrees in HVAC, welding and automotive repair.

Williams met with Hill College instructors and staff, students and area industry representatives. 

Williams said he walked away from the meeting and an earlier tour of the center highly impressed.

“I’ve always been on about the importance of technical training and Hill College does such a great job of providing that to our area young people,” Williams said. 

Williams discussed two bills he recently authored and introduced.

“They’re both bipartisan,” Williams said. “And when you say something’s bipartisan in Washington right now, that’s a big deal. I just hope they don’t get caught up in politics where a good bill gets caught up in a bad bill, which happens sometimes. But otherwise, I think they should pass and that the president will sign them if they do.”

The first, House Resolution 3366, involves funding for small businesses who agree to hire and train students going through technical training programs.

The second, HR 3365, focuses on school loan borrowing.

“When students go in to borrow it would make it mandatory that tells them their other options of going to going to community college or a trade school program and what that debt would look like compared to a four-year university. In other words, laying out alternate options as far as cost and funding.”

The point, Williams said, is that while the traditional college route is great for many, more needs to be done to spread word of options for those not interested in such a path to let them know that good paying jobs and careers can be had without a four-year degree.

Those attending Wednesday’s discussion agreed though several said teachers and counselors should begin discussing such career options with students as early as junior high. 

One student, who already received her associates degree in welding and is working on another in industrial maintenance, said she enjoy’s discussing Hill’s technical programs with area high school students.

“That’s good,” Williams said. “It’s important that we showcase the opportunities out there to our high school students. If they hear that from a teacher or adult that’s one thing. But if they hear it from someone like you more their own age and see how passionate you are about the training and opportunities you’re getting it makes that much more of an impression on them.”

Williams touched upon other topics including his concern that the economy will slow should taxes be raised and that too many are relying on extended unemployment benefits in light of the COVID-19 pandemic rather than finding jobs.

“People deserving of unemployment insurance is one thing, and it works,” Williams said. “But we need to stop this. People have to get out there and go to work. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’re creating a generation and telling them unemployment and $15 an hour is an industry. It’s not. A generation who thinks it’s okay to be average, okay to be a victim. It’s not okay.”

Williams went on to stress the importance of not just gainful employment but public service as well.

Despite such challenges and continued political division, Americans are surviving and adjusting, Williams concluded.

“Things are a little different but Main Street’s adjusting,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of anger, lot of dislike but America’s still the greatest country in the world. We can’t give up on it, can’t give up on the system.”

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