Pipe dream comes true: Longview High School plumbing program gets $12K donation | Local News

Getting a machine to help students thread pipes has been a pipe dream of Longview High School plumbing instructor Harold Gober since he started teaching there five years ago.

Thanks to a donation from the Texas Builders Foundation, the charitable division of the Texas Association of Builders, the program is now flush with the cash it needs to buy the device.

On Friday morning, Scott Norman — CEO of the statewide builders association — joined representatives from the East Texas Builders Association, Longview ISD and students at Longview High School to present a $12,000 check to the plumbing program.







Scott Norman, CEO of the Texas Association of Builders (shown at left), and Katie Ballard, president of the East Texas Builders Association (shown at right), talk with Longview High School plumbing program students Isabella Bravo, Emily Alvarado and Vanessa Vega on Friday during a check presentation event at the high school. The statewide builders association gave $12,000 to the program to purchase a new pipe threading machine. (Jordan Green/Longview News-Journal Photo)


The money will be used to purchase a Rigid 535 pipe threading machine, which Gober said will be a useful tool for students eyeing careers in the field of plumbing. Dozens of students are involved in the high school plumbing program, which primarily trains them to install plumbing in new homes and commercial structures, Gober said.

The machine will replace “old school” manual tools students have used to thread the ends of pipes, allowing pipes to be joined together or capped, Gober said. It will allow students to thread pipes more quickly and gain practice using a tool that industry professionals have had on hand for decades.

“I’m going to be able to teach these kids the way it’s going to be in the real world,” Gober said.

He said he expects it to arrive in time for students to use in the next school year.

The donation is part of the builders association’s goal of strengthening the pipeline of future skilled laborers heading into the industry. Katie Ballard, president of the East Texas Builders Association in Longview, said builders everywhere — including local ones — need “quality employees that are ready to just come out and get to work.”







Builders association 5.JPG

Longview High School plumbing instructor Harold Gober, left, accepts a check from Scott Norman, CEO of the Texas Association of Builders, during a check presentation event Friday at Longview High School. The Texas Builders Foundation, the charitable division of the statewide builders association, gave $12,000 to the high school plumbing program to purchase a new pipe threading machine. (Jordan Green/Longview News-Journal Photo)


The statewide builders association aims to help grow the number of those employees, in part, by investing in programs that train them. The association also offers scholarships to students seeking to further their technical and trade educations.

While education leaders have steered students toward college in droves in the past few decades, the need for skilled laborers has increased, Norman said. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, roofers and more can earn a good living, both as employees and independent business owners.

“East Texas is growing. The whole state is growing,” Norman said. “We have a major housing shortage in this state — across the nation, but really in Texas.”

The construction industry is seeking to hire more women. Gober said his three best plumbing students — Vanessa Vega, Isabella Bravo and Emily Alvarado — are sophomores.

All three said they’re excited to use the new machine next year, which will make work faster.

Jordan Green is a Report for America corps member covering underserved communities for the News-Journal. Reach him at [email protected].