Dodge City Community College has been granted permission to enroll veterans in the college helicopter flight program.

According to DCCC, the Veteran’s Administration and the Arizona State Approving Agency gave the college permission, and according to DCCC Provost Adam John, students and officials knew the re-certification process was nearing a conclusion, so when approval was official, veterans signed up quickly.

"We are anticipating 20 students in the program for the fall semester," John said in a news release.

As the permission to enroll veterans was granted, according to John, the program reached maximum level of veteran participation, along with nonveteran students.

On Feb. 21, the DCCC board of trustees voted unanimously to end its contract with Universal Helicopter Inc. as the provider for its flight school program.

The program had come under controversy over the Veterans Administration allegedly billing the college for close to $33 million, which DCCC has disputed.

With the re-approval, the college and the VA are heading in the right direction, according to John.

"I would say this is a very good sign," John said. "They are obviously comfortable with the progress we are making or they would not have approved us."

According to John, the college's net income for the program over the past 10 years came in at $3.5 million.

DCCC Board of Trustees chairman Gary Harshberger added that the patience and perseverance of college staff and VA officials to work together through the tasks of revising the school’s procedures has shown the cooperation.

"We worked closely with the VA and addressed the issues," Harshberger said in a news release. "We fixed the issues, the VA approved our plans and immediately this valuable program was filled to capacity.

"This training is a direct path to high-demand, high-wage jobs, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done to continue to provide this pathway."

Since the contract with UHI was terminated, Quantum Helicopters became the new program provider for DCCC.

According to DCCC President Harold Nolte, Quantum has a purple and gold helicopter for training in Arizona, and the school’s new offices are open and receiving student inquiries about the flight program on a daily basis.

"This is a great step," Nolte said in a news release "and what our team has learned and accomplished for our Arizona campus will only help us in our effort to get our Kansas location operating again."

Regarding the $33 million ongoing dispute between DCCC and the VA, college legal counsel Glenn Kerbs said, "The reinstatement of the flight program in Arizona and the debt letters received from the VA are two separate matters.

"The Arizona State Approving Agency has granted the college permission to enroll veterans in the college’s flight program. To be clear, there is no ongoing litigation between the college and the VA.

"The College received debt letters (claims) from the VA. The claims are in dispute and we are hopeful the claims will be resolved through the exchange of information and discussions between the parties."

 

To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com