DDI honors former director, update on CTE

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Carol Roth addressed an audience of stakeholders in Driftless Development. Roth stepped down as Executive Director in late 2023.

Driftless Development held their annual dinner at The Barn. (Steve Van Kooten/Courier Press)

Driftless Development, Inc. held their annual stakeholder dinner at The Barn in Prairie du Chien on Wednesday, March 27.

Attendees honored Carol Roth, DDI’s former executive director, as she stepped into a consultant role with the economic development company.

“Carol has been an exceptional leader for our organization,” said Artie Johnson, a member of DDI’s Board of Directors. “Just an exceptional, dedicated employee — I think the better word is ‘partner.’”

Johnson said Roth was vital for DDI’s progress over the years.

“Carol lived this job, and it’s meant the world to us. Within a short amount of time, we as a Board of Directors could see we were becoming the organization we aspired to be.”

Executive Director Mark Lee said, “I’m so humbled to be in this position, knowing what a trailblazer Carol was.”

Roth had the spotlight during the evening, and she used that time, along with board member Tomi Gebhard, to highlight new developments in the planned Career and Technical Education Center (CTE) at the Prairie du Chien School District.

“This isn’t just for kids in schools,” said Roth. “We want to also work with adults in our community that might need to be re-skilled or up-skilled.”

Prairie du Chien School District Administrator Andy Banasik gave Gebhard and Roth the go-ahead to pursue a CTE program, according to Gebhard, who also said the CTE project has acquired two grants for online courses and technical equipment and has pursued congressional funding through U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Derrick Van Orden.

Industry leaders, including 3M, BAPI, Box Logix, Crossing Rivers Health, the Opportunity Center, Truvant and Wolf Machine, among others, have offered support “in a variety of ways” for the CTE program.

“Superintendents in Crawford County are talking about creating a co-op where we would share students, share resources and share campuses,” Gebhard said.

Lee said, “Ideally, every school in Crawford County [would be involved]. That’s the goal.”

The program has a “soft start” slated for the fall of 2024 at the Prairie du Chien School District.

“We will be bringing in more online course opportunities for students and community members into our existing structure,” said Gebhard.

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