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Auburn honors welding students at the Annual Community Volunteer luncheon

Welding student volunteers. Top row, from left to right: Andrew Koch, Steve Harrison, Devin Wheeler, Brian McCorkle, Jared King, Carsten Moyer, Cameron Nelson, Chris Adkins. Bottom row: Calvin Adams, Dee Clark

The City of Auburn recognized the efforts of welding students and Scott Schreiber, welding technology program director, April 25 at the 26th Annual Community Volunteer Luncheon.

Fifteen students worked in shifts for 15 days and welded 1,833 separate junction boxes shut to fight the growing problem of copper wire theft in Auburn. The city estimates that through their volunteer labor, the Green River College welding students saved the City of Auburn $170,000.

Mayor Pete Lewis, Councilman Wayne Osborne and Councilman John Partridge, among others, were present to acknowledge the hard work of the community volunteers. The students each received a certificate from the City of Auburn.

David Ornsbey, Auburn street/vegetation manager, originally developed the plan to weld shut the street boxes to protect against thieves. He attended the luncheon to support the Green River welding students.

Welding luncheon
Welding program director Scott Schreiber, right) and
Auburn street/vegetation manager David Ornsbey.

"Green River students did a lot of work in a short time," Ornsbey said. "They carried themselves very well - they were courteous and professional."

There have been no thefts since the project concluded in November 2012. Consequently, the cities of Fife and Tukwila have already approached the welding program with requests for similar projects.

"It's nice to be recognized," said Steve Harrison, a Green River welding student. "Doing volunteer work that not only helped the city save money, but helped the community. As a group, we really made a difference."

By participating in the project, the welding students gained valuable experience in real-world conditions. "We were faced with the reality of welding in the elements - fighting against the wind, trying to weld in puddles," said Devin Wheeler. "It completely changed how we worked."

One student working in a field accidentally caught a patch of dry brush on fire and had to act quickly to put it out. Challenging as it was, their experience with real-world volunteer work added value to their resumes.    

Above all, the students are proud of their contribution to the community. Volunteer student Chris Watkins said. "Every time I walk by one of those boxes, I feel a little better about myself."