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Abilene Wants a Taste of West Texas Tea

There's been quite a bit of buzz lately surrounding the business in the West Texas oil fields. Now local colleges are prepping their students for all the black gold in that area. KRBC's Nora Hartfeil looked into how the Key City could reap the benefits of the Cline Shale work going on 150 miles west of here.
Inspiration sparked by the so-called oil boom in West Texas is becoming blindingly obvious for some folks in Abilene.

"While it's creating somewhat of a hardship in some areas, because the workers are leaving, because the salaries are so much better in West Texas, the end result is going to be prosperity for Abilene", says Rick Marks, head of Industrial Technology at Cisco College.

Local colleges are molding fast-track programs so students can ensure a bright future in black gold.

"Students, and just adults in general around Abilene are seeing the high wages that are being paid, so they want to be trained to be able to go make those wages", explains Marks.

Michael Marks is a welding instructor at Cisco College, and says he's never seen so much interest in the expedited programs that allow students with virtually no experience to enter into the classroom and leave seven weeks later, ready to hit the fields.

"Our classes are exploding right now. The first thing they say is they want to get their own rig and go out to get rich in the oil fields", says Marks.

With drilling a speculated six months away, across town, Gary Robinett with the Abilene Industrial Foundation, is anxious to see the ripple effect that all that oil could create.

"Depending on the amount of wells that are going to be drilled, and how big this Cline Shale really is, I think that's when we'll have the better picture of what the requirements are going to be for Abilene", says Robinett.

Though in just the beginning stages, Abilene seems determined to get even a little taste of that West Texas Tea.

Cisco College tells us that although welders are in demand out in the oil fields, there is a need for several other occupations as well, and they offer regular training courses.
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