Wrong place, right time yields CDL license

LIHU’E — Being in the wrong place at the right time earned Gwendolyn Licayan a state Type B Commercial Drivers License (CDL).

Licayan, who chuckled over her achievement, was one of three ladies in the class of 14 graduates who gathered in the warm afternoon sun at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot for their final sessions in driving the “big rigs.”

The 14 graduates celebrated their accomplishments at formal commencement exercises at the Kaua’i Community College Performing Arts Center yesterday.

“They all passed,” instructor Steven Carvalho beamed as he watched a tandem team take the Fredstan Kaluahine dump truck on a circle tour of the Vidinha Stadium parking lot.

“The ladies were really good,” he noted. “They had the lowest (amount of mistakes) scores of the class, and they have a soft touch when shifting gears.”

Licayan said she used to work at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, near Mana and Kekaha, but quit to help her boyfriend, Keith Adams, another of the CDL graduates, when he got a house.

“I was going to study accounting, but he said they had openings in the class, so here I am,” she said. She explained that Adams needed to get his CDL for his job with Gay & Robinson.

“Now, I hope to get a job with a good company, and maybe study accounting. I now have a better understanding and a deeper respect for CDL driving,” she said.

“I’ll never cut in front of these huge, slow rigs ever again, now that I know it runs on air-brakes, not regular ones. I could plow into four or five cars at once if I didn’t take this class, and now, I know better.”

Licayan credited Carvalho with “being a tight kumu, and raising the level of instruction so the class would be interesting.”

Maryann Kanahele, another of the women graduates, agreed.

“The class was real good,” Kanahele said. “It was also interesting and fun.”

Kanahele started working as a bus driver for Ke Kula Ni’ihau O Kekaha public charter school, and after school officials acquired a new bus, decided she would get a CDL license to get full use out of the new vehicle.

She explained that without the license, she could only pick up 14 students at a time, but getting the license, she could “overload,” meaning she could transport up to 24 students. The bus capacity is 26 students.

Carvalho noted that she didn’t have to get the license, but took the initiative to get the Type B license so she could bring all the students on one trip instead of having to make multiple trips.

Carvalho explained that the Type B license is for vehicles that exceed 26,001 pounds. More realistically, he said that it includes the buses as well as “dumper” trucks. In short, he said, “It’s anything that you don’t need to hook up.”

On April 3, Carvalho will be starting up another CDL class, this one for Type A licenses. He said that this covers vehicles with a “fifth wheel,” pointing to one of the refuse-transfer containers that was parked on one lane of the parking lot. “That would be a Type A vehicle since you need to hook up.”

The class members who celebrated their graduation yesterday are in Carvalho’s fourth class since the program was started under the KCC Office of Continuing Education and Training and the Workforce Development program.

John Isobe and Calvin Shirai are the contact people for more information on this program.

Two weeks of intense classroom work using the state license manual and other related curriculum is the beginning of the two-month course, which includes hands-on driving, said Ilei Beniamina, assistant professor, student services, at KCC.

An interested student will need to present some pre-qualification requirements prior to entering the course, and possible tuition subsidies may be available through the Rural Development Project and the state Department of Labor, Beniamina said.

Graduates who were enjoying the opportunity to “solo” Monday include Keith Adams, Peter Brown, Tom Kanahele, Joseph Kanahele, Maryann Kanahele, Stanley Kanahele, Cindy Leiala Kaohelaulii, Jacob Enoka Kaohelaulii, Licayan, Michael Llego, Kevin Nordmeier, Edwin Raposas, Rizaldy Tolentino, and Ryan Puni.


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