2009-06-04 / Local & State

Clair, Dorothy Miller Set Up Foundation

For vocational scholarships, community organizations
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Clair and Dorothy Miller Clair and Dorothy Miller Having gotten his first taste of the building industry at the young age of 14, Clair R. Miller has spent decades both learning and teaching the tricks of his trade. Now retired and enjoying the use of his carpentry skills sprucing up the McConnellsburg home he shares with his wife, Dorothy, the couple has announced their intention of financing the education of area youths interested in learning the business themselves.

According to Clair and Dorothy, work on establishing their foundation initially got under way in mid 2006. The first round of scholarships to area seniors is slated to be awarded later this week at several graduation ceremonies to be held in county Thursday and Friday. A total of three scholarships will be awarded to senior candidates from either the Forbes Road, Central Fulton, Southern Fulton and Southern Huntingdon school districts who are currently enrolled in the vocationaltechnical curriculum.

Clair said the decision to award scholarships to vocational students within the four school districts was based on the number of individuals he employed over the years who hailed from those communities. In many cases, individuals were hired with little or no knowledge of the building trade. Using their new-found knowledge, some employees branched out and opened their own home building or remodeling businesses.

After having met with local students at numerous Career Day events on the ins and outs of masonry and electrical work, Clair stated, he saw more than his fair share of students who were preparing to enter the workforce without any marketable job skills or a clear vision of their future.

"A lot of these kids could only get these types of job skills on site because they didn't have the money to go to a trade school," said Clair. " ... I came from a family of carpenters. At the age of 14 I started working with lumber, stairwells and remodeling. I've often said I learned the hard way because my family didn't have the money to send me to school."

Criteria established through the Millers' trust fund stipulates in addition to being a senior at one of the four designated area schools, a student must be enrolled in one of the following vocational programs of study: building trades (carpentry, electrical, plumbing, masonry and HVAC), business occupations, drafting (architectural and mechanical) or health-related. In order to apply for consideration, a recommendation must be obtained from the student's vocational teacher and an additional candidate application must be completed listing honors and recognition, community activities, prior work experience, hobbies and special interests and a brief explanation of why you should be awarded this particular scholarship.

The Millers said they would like to pay out 5 percent on an annual basis through the foundation once fully funded. Of that amount, roughly $20,000 will be paid out for vocational funding, and additional money will be earmarked for various community organizations and projects.

"There is more yet to come," stated Clair. "Other organizations will benefit from this besides scholarship recipients ... This is where we made our money (Fulton and southern Huntingdon counties) over the years, and this is our way of giving back to those communities."

Any area contractors and residents wishing to make a taxdeductible contribution can send their payments directly to Clair and Dorothy Miller at 526 North Fifth Street, McConnellsburg, PA 17233. Contributions can be specifically earmarked by the contributor for use with the scholarship fund or for community projects. Children and grandchildren of those donating to the educational fund will be deemed ineligible to receive a scholarship.

Board members overseeing the foundation and its distribution of funding include President Clair Miller, Vice President Terry Miller, Treasurer Dorothy Miller, Secretary Tracy Miller and fellow board members Todd Alexander and Elizabeth Cheatle, executive director of the Fulton County Area Vocational- Technical School.

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