After Mardi Gras, What?

Tony Cook

Tony Cook

The days following the end of Carnival season in New Orleans find us feeling somewhat lethargic. After weeks of enjoying endless street parades, balls, and king cakes, residents of our city wake up on the day after Mardi Gras a bit dazed, if not confused.

Here in south Louisiana, February and March are transitional months. Winter into spring, Carnival into Lent, Popeyes fried chicken into crawfish and Friday fish dinners. Like the cruise ships on the river that passes through our city, sailing to the Gulf of Mexico and ports of call in the Caribbean, we go with the flow.

The kings and jesters of Mardi Gras shower the streets of our city with beads and other trinkets, filling our hearts with joy and satisfaction as we catch treasure after treasure. The day after the last parade, though, we look around our homes and wonder what to do with all the loot. Recycle it, store it in the attic, throw it in the trash. Maybe keep some of it on display to admire year-round.

Stepping outside on the morning after Mardi Gras, one senses a change in the atmosphere. Typically, tree pollen coats everything in sight, and buds, sometimes blossoms, are on the azaleas and hawthorne bushes. The sunshine feels intense and hot, more like summer than winter, certainly. Rain falls on this day some years, but does not bring the chill of winter with it.

After Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it is springtime. How wonderful to live in a city where the most anticipated and fun event of the year leads into the most comfortable, pleasant season of the year.

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Delgado students are finding success with Laitram LLC

Tony Cook

Tony Cook

Hans Ruoss, a 20-year employee at Laitram LLC in Harahan, is a mechanical engineer who earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of New Orleans and studied at Mississippi State University. He’s an outdoorsman and athlete, serves as scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop in Mandeville and is an articulate, engaging representative of his company and his profession.

He’s also a former Delgado Community College student, with 20 credit hours earned at the City Park Campus. “I loved the environment at Delgado,” Ruoss said. He credits the college with helping him find his way in life.

Ruoss is the general manager of the Laitram Machine Shop, where he supervises Delgado Machine Tool Technology students who work there as machinist interns. One of these students, Michael Ngyuen, recently became the first full-time employee at Laitram to complete the internship program.

Former Delgado student Hans Ruoss shows how drill bits and other disposable parts are dispensed from a vending machine at the Laitram Machine Shop in Harahan. Ruoss is general manager of the facility

Former Delgado student Hans Ruoss shows how drill bits and other disposable parts are dispensed from a vending machine at the Laitram Machine Shop in Harahan. Ruoss is general manager of the facility.

In order to become a machinist intern at Laitram, a Delgado student must have completed a full year of study. When selected for the intern program, the student receives help with tuition from the company, which does not hire any student until Delgado studies are finished and the Certificate of Technical Studies is awarded.

The nationwide shortage of skilled machine tools technology workers—some 60,000 are needed—is also felt locally. There are more jobs available in the field than there are people prepared to fill them. “Having trained employees provided for our industry through technical education at Delgado and other schools is extremely valuable to us,” Ruoss said.

Employment at Laitram after completing the internship is quite valuable to the students, as well. “A machinist here can start at $15 to $20 an hour, and can expect to earn up to $30 an hour,” Ruoss said. There are about 70 employees in his shop divided among two shifts. Salaries range from about $45,000 to around $80,000.

Earnings like these are often associated with professional jobs that require a four-year degree. That people who work with their hands can enjoy such monetary rewards may surprise some. But it’s common knowledge to Ruoss, the engineer. “Manufacturing brings high-value, long-term employment to the region,” he said.

Up a Lazy River

Tony Cook

Tony Cook

Fall 2013 Faculty Convocation, “Strengthening a Foundation for Excellence,” is going on today at the Student Life Center on the City Park Campus. After a morning session that included a talk by Dr. Monty Sullivan on the importance of student recruitment, service and retention; the critical role of faculty in fostering student achievement and institutional growth; new facilities including the Sidney Collier Campus; and the influence of Delgado in the New Orleans regional community, Delgado faculty enjoyed a home-style lunch accompanied by traditional jazz classics performed by A.J. Monistere and his combo. That’s A.J. on the tenor sax.

IMG_2966 copyIf you need a great band to perform New Orleans trad jazz at your party, contact A.J. at ajmonistere@yahoo.com.