Waushara County board, staff, and several citizens Tour Operating Engineers #139 Training Center
Dan Sperberg, Vice President & Training Director, Wisconsin Operating Engin-eers #139 Training Center, Coloma, gave an enlightening tour to Waushara County Board, county staff, and citizens on July 17. The facility operates on an $8 million annual budget and the center is totally funded by the members and there is no state or local money invested, Sperberg said. The center provides training for 200-400 annually at no cost to the members of #139. Each hour a member of #139 works, a percentage of their hourly pay is put into a fund to provide training. Sperberg said back in 1902 their members had a vision and with that vision came the ability to have centers for training for their members by each one contributing. Today #139 has 10,000 members. Last year 7,000 took classes at the Coloma training center. The Coloma training center opened in 1976 when it was moved from the Milwaukee area. Since that move they have added two addiitions, including one in 2015 that is an enclosed building measuring 300 ft. long by 80 ft. high. Sperberg adds that they added a tower crane to the crane class in 2016. That crane is 120 ft. high and can reach heights to 600 ft. To access the crane itself, the operator must climb stairs up the tower to reach the crane cab that has a glass floor so he can see what is happening below at all times. These types of cranes are often used in large cities with large building stuctures that require a small footprint, such as the Northwestern Mutual building in Milwaukee. They have 50 instructors on staff during their busy season which is late fall and through the winter, and 13 on staff full-time. Sperberg is very appreciative of his right hand man, Woody Wickersheim, Site Coordinator. They work together to make sure all is set for the training and scheduling. In addition to training their members, they also do programs including Helmets to Hardhats, where they train veterans. They also participate in Combat to Construction and provide apprenticeships for veterans. The Wisconsin Operating Engineers #139 Training Center has the largest apprenticeship program with 500 enrolled. As you drive by this center on State Road 21 just west of Coloma, you may just glance and wonder what is happening inside those walls and behind that mammoth building. It is an amazing journey to see the training that is provided for earth movers, cranes, graders, hazmat, welding, CDL’s, and so much more. This center provides classroom and hands on training. In addition to the training they provide their members, the training center is a great neighbor. They have worked on projects throughout the county, such as the shooting range in Wautoma, all done at no cost to anyone as they did it as part of their training. They have been called to assist with the Coloma Fire Dept. and many other areas. They participate in many local parades, they patronize our businesses. Their students rent hotel and motel rooms and eat out at local restaurants. The Wisconsin Operating Engineers #139 Training Center is a business that gives back and contributes to our economy each and everyday.