On Friday, October 26, 2018, the sun was shining and the smell of a fresh Boucherie was in the air as members of the Benny Cenac business, Cenac Marine Services, attended a celebration for a partner in maritime education. South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) celebrated their new and recent partnership at the Maritime and Corporate Training Center in Houma.
SLCC hosts a Marine Operations program within their Continuing Education outpost of their Corporate College to support the needs of businesses and industries throughout South Louisiana. The Marine Operations program provides specialized Coast Guard-approved classroom instruction and practical training to prepare students for many jobs available in the field.
SLCC administrators along with area dignitaries shared remarks and then later enjoyed the afternoon over delicious food and a discussion of what exciting things are to come in the future for both parties as they partner together.
The program began with a warm welcome from Mr. Anthony Baham of SLCC and was followed by fellow representatives of SLCC: Dr. Craig McClain and Dr. Kristine Strickland. Also in attendance were Mr. Gordone Dove, Parish President, Mr. Jerome Zeringue, Represented of District 52, and Ms. Beryl Amedee, Representative of District 51.
Mr. Walt Cenac with the Benny Cenac Towing Company was in attendance of the open house for CEO and Owner, Benny Cenac. The company donated a fully refurbished barge to SLCC’s Maritime Training program back in November 2017. The dedicated barge, which measures 158 feet by 40 feet, is an exact replica of a standard Cenac Marine Services tank barge with all the bells and whistles. The barge is located in Munson Slip in Houma, just off the Houma Navigation Canal. These updated real-life barge features now allow for the highest quality education and training for those that attend the program that are set to be the next generation of maritime industry leaders.
Cenac’s donated fully refurbished barge has everything a current Cenac employee would work with on a daily basis. Benny Cenac, Houma business owner, proudly announced that it is the most state-of-the-art training barge in Louisiana, and likely the most advanced of its kind within the Gulf Coast.
Cenac Marine had donated the barge to the state years ago for use in workforce development. Members of the board of supervisors of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System approached Benny Cenac to see if his towing business would partner with the area schools to modernize the training barge. Mr. Cenac jumped at the chance to aid local students and interested professionals committed to training and strengthening the local maritime workforce.
Benny Cenac, Business Leader and Philanthropist for Education-Related Causes
Benny Cenac, business magnate from Houma, has long supported higher-education programs throughout the state of Louisiana. Mr. Cenac understands the value of education and dedicates his resources to supporting those who love to learn. Benny Cenac’s business successes at Cenac Marine Services has prompted his support for maritime-focused training programs to ensure a continued and thriving maritime industry within his home state.
Workforce development is always at the top of Benny Cenac’s list business priorities—and community partnerships like this one are crucial for orchestrating workforce development systems in such vital industries.
“Terrebonne Parish is and always will be near and dear to our hearts here at Cenac as our birthplace,” explained Cenac. “This company will always invest in continuing to produce the best marine personnel in the business. This also assists in making training more readily available to the area. We are all for supporting maritime education, especially so close to home.”
Cenac noted that students and existing mariners in the Terrebonne area were forced to travel for certain classes to less-convenient areas like Slidell, LA, east of New Orleans.
“Now our employees will be able to have a place right in their backyard to do this,” Cenac said.
The very first open enrollment SLCC Maritime Training class began in August. Depending on the size of the class, hands-on barge training can last approximately eight hours long. The goal of the South Louisiana Community College and their Maritime training program is to offer the class every two weeks, depending on instructor availability. They currently have two Cenac Boat Captains serving as tankerman instructors during their off time. The Cenac instructors have been certified through the state of Louisiana to teach the course. It takes a total of 32 hours to complete the tankerman training course. After completion of the course, they are required to complete basic firefighting training before they can become a certified Tankerman.
Benny Cenac stated, “From the very start of this project I have been excited about what we can offer to the community and to those interested in becoming Tankermen. My company and I are fortunate to have the opportunity to provide a hands-on learning experience to many people for years to come.”
The Benny Cenac Towing Company was very proud to be a part of the open house that took place at the Maritime Training Center. The event was perfect and closed out with words from Mr. Stevie Smith in place of Mr. Vinny St. Blanc, Louisiana’s Community and Technical College’s (LCTCS) Board of Supervisors.
“When you look at higher education where we’ve had so many budget cuts, and a man steps up and offers equipment or a simulator in support of our community technical college, it speaks to his love for his community and his state,” Willie Smith said. “We appreciate you, Mr. Cenac, and all that you’ve done for us in support of the community and technical college.”
The barge dedication ceremony featured a benediction from Father Mark Toups from the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux and a prayer from the Rev. Simon Peter Engurait, vicar general of the diocese and pastor of St. Bridget Church in Schriever, La. The ceremony concluded when representatives from SLCC and the Cenac family shattered bottles of champagne over the bow of the tank barge.
To learn more about South Louisiana Community College and its Maritime training offerings, please visit, http://www.solacc.edu. More information on this inaugural class was featured on Workboat’s website. To read about the barge dedication that took place in 2017 please see this article.