Summer of 2022


Flanagan, IL—Flanagan State Bank donated $25,000 to the El Paso-Gridley Unit 11 Agriculture Department for installation of six new welding booths for student vocational training and help with needed electrical upgrades at the high school building. The new custom-made welding booths were completed over the summer and were ready for student use in time for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.   

The previous welding setup limited hands-on learning time to sometimes five minutes of welding per day, as well as the number of students who could participate. The donation doubled the number of functional weld stations available to students and now depending on the number in class, students sometimes have access to up to fifteen minutes or more of welding time per day.  
“This welding training will help students become more skilled and valuable for future employment in the trades,” said Eric Reutter, agriculture instructor and coordinator of the cooperative work program for El Paso-Gridley Unit 11. “We have several welding shops and businesses within our school district that would be interested in hiring welders, machinists, assemblers, and other workers in skilled trades.” There are 23 students enrolled in welding for the 2022-2023 school year, and Reutter hopes to have up to 54 students enrolled between two classes levels next year.  
“The El Paso-Gridley school district works hard to offer wonderful educational opportunities to our local students,” said Audrey Harlan, president of Flanagan State Bank. “Students are able to receive hands-on welding training as they pursue their vocational goals, and we were excited to invest in the plan to help make that happen for our community.” The EPG school board thanked Harlan at the October 24, 2022 school board meeting for Flanagan State Bank’s partnership and support for the educational project. 
The recent donation for the welding booth project is part of a larger community investment plan by Flanagan State Bank. Other local projects have included classroom sponsorships at the new El Paso-Gridley Middle School and a sponsorship for a major update to the playground space at the El Paso-Gridley Centennial campus. 


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