Company Helps Man Transition from the Marines to Trucking

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January 01, 2013 11:45 pm  •  By ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star

When Marine veteran Rowdy Bolinger returned to civilian life, he had trouble finding a good job fit.

That’s when he reached out to the Greek god Proteus. Well, not exactly.

Rather than relying on a mythical being known for his ability to change his form, Bolinger turned to a Lincoln job training company that bears the Proteus name.

Together, Proteus Inc. and a man who served two tours in Iraq worked to get him through four weeks of instruction at JTL Truck Driver Training on Omaha’s western outskirts and earn him a commercial driver’s license.

Now he’s making daily trips back and forth between Iowa City, 270 miles away, and Werner Enterprises across Interstate 80 from the trucking school.

“You live a life and you feel like it has meaning and purpose,” the 36-year-old Bolinger said of his time in the military. “And then you come back home and everything is different.”

Proteus is a long-term, private sector presence in Iowa, but a much more recent addition in Nebraska and in Lincoln. Its federal origins go all the way back to the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and his War on Poverty in the 1960s.

Working with federal grant money offered through the Department of Labor and under the National Farm Workers Jobs Program, Proteus' Lincoln staff covered the $4,000 cost of Bolinger’s education as a trucker.

Susan Billups has been a regional director for Proteus at the Lincoln office at Ninth  Street and Pioneers Boulevard since September 2011.

“You have to have worked an agricultural job for the majority of your money for a 12-month period sometime in the last two years,” Billups said in explaining how the farm connection works.

Income guidelines also apply -- less than $11,170 for a single person and $24,240 for a family of four.

“These folks can go from minimum wage jobs to making $35,000, $45,000, $50,000, depending on who they get on with and what they can negotiate for themselves,” she said.

At this point in his life, Bolinger wants to combine trucking with longer-term work toward a business administration degree.

“I was looking for a job that wasn’t so physically demanding that I couldn’t go to school at the same time,” he said.

Ultimately, he would like to get back to what he was doing between two stints in the Marines. That means defense contracting and “moving men, equipment and weapons to and from the Middle East,” he said.

There are about as many possibilities for switching job descriptions as there are jobs, Billups said.

“If someone wants to be an LPN and they work in hog confinement, we will help them do that,” she added.

Migrant farm workers constitute “a second tier” of potential Proteus clients.

“One of the tripping points is that you have to be the head of your own household. So we can’t take an 18-year-old whose mom and dad still claim him on their taxes and enroll him in this program.”

As Bolinger’s situation demonstrates, part of the service Proteus provides is to a population of veterans who may be having trouble with the conversion from military to civilian employment.

For much of the past decade, unemployment rates have trended higher among those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

David Cook, an instructor at JTL, said many of the 150 to 175 students enrolled there each year have military backgrounds.

“We get a lot of veterans,” he said.

JTL and Proteus have worked together before, he added.

At the same time, he said, the trend in the trucking industry is toward Werner and other major truck carriers hiring new drivers who have had some kind of formal training.

“They don’t want to hire new drivers off the street,” he said.

Long-haul truckers in eastern Nebraska typically start at $38,000 to $42,000 a year, Cook said.

In Nebraska, Proteus is reaching out to veterans and nonveterans alike from Lincoln, as well as from Columbus, Grand Island, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

Part of Bolinger’s frustration in trying to navigate his own way to better employment was in using his G.I. Bill eligibility to pay for the cost of his trucker training.

“I was just having a hard time,” he said. “The G.I. Bill (representatives) didn’t want to pay for school.”

When he turned to Proteus, “it took about a one-half-hour meeting and Kim (of Proteus) was able to get everything she needed to make it happen.”

Bolinger’s experience in returning to civilian employment was that jobs that pay subsistence wages aren’t difficult to find.

“In order to find something satisfying,” he said, “it’s really hard.”


Attention Motor Carriers: Update Your VMT & PU Data

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Did You Know…As a motor carrier, recent Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) and Power Unit (PU) data from your Motor Carrier Registration form, known as the MCS-150, are required and must be up to date to properly assess your level of exposure in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) in FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS).

If your VMT data in FMCSA’s database is from 2010 or older, it will not be used in your calculations when the January SMS snapshot is posted at the beginning of February. Instead, the level of exposure will default to average PUs over the previous 18 months which can impact your percentiles in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs. View the SMS Methodology for addition details on BASIC percentile calculations.

Update your MCS-150 now with 2011 VMT/PU information or shortly after January 1, 2013 with your 2012 data to ensure that FMCSA is using the most accurate data available to calculate your percentiles. Visit to update your MCS-150 information. Under the “Existing Registration Updates” section, choose the first option - “I need to update my USDOT number registration information or file my biennial update.”

PLEASE NOTE: The SMS website is updated monthly, so your MCS-150 changes will not be reflected on that site until the next monthly update. You can find the schedule of SMS updates at MCS-150 updates show up faster on SAFER and the FMCSA Portal websites.

Thank You,
CSA Web Team
U.S. DOT/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

DOT Leaders’ Plans for Future Not Expected to Be Settled Until Early 2013

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By Michele Fuetsch
Staff Reporter, Transport Topics

The future leadership of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is not expected to be settled until early 2013, according to officials with the agencies.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a speech to the Peoria Rotary Club in Illinois on Dec. 7 that he and President Obama will not discuss his future until the new year, the Peoria Journal Star reported.

When asked for further comment by TRANSPORT Topics, LaHood spokesman Justin Nisly said: “I don’t have anything to share beyond what the secretary has said publicly.”
LaHood said he and the president talked about the future “shortly after” the election and “will continue to-talk after the first of the year, and we’ll see where it takes us,” the Journal Star reported.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro did not respond to requests for comment about her future plans.

However, FMCSA Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott said in an e-mail to TT that Ferro and “other appointees at U.S. DOT serve at the pleasure of the president, and will speak with Secretary LaHood about second-term plans in the coming weeks.”

Ferro was nominated by Obama in 2009. She had been president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association and previously ran the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

She became the fourth permanent administrator of the truck-safety agency, which was officially established in 2000.

Ferro succeeded John Hill, who departed as part of the transition between the Bush and Obama administrations. Rose McMurray, FMCSA’s chief safety officer, served as acting administrator in the interim.

Before the president selected LaHood as DOT secretary in 2009, he was the congressman from Peoria for 14 years. He is currently the only Republican in Obama’s cabinet.

LaHood first brought up the issue of his tenure in October 2011, when he said he planned to leave the cabinet to go into the private sector and would not be serving in a second Obama administration.

In recent months, LaHood appeared to be backtracking, as when he told reporters ‘on Sept. 19 that he didn’t know “if I’ve -ever had a better job.”

At that time, he said he planned to talk to Obama after the election about his future as secretary.

Source: Transport Topics

Chairmanship of Prestigious Appropriations Committee

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With the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye on Monday, the leadership atop the Senate (Pro Tempore) as well as the Chairmanship of the highly influential Appropriations Committee were vacated and had to be filled.  Conventional wisdom early in the week was that Sen. Patrick Leahy would ascend to both the number three position in succession to the President and would also give up his gavel as presiding Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to take over the committee with jurisdiction over all federal spending.  This would have a cascading effect which would provide Senator Diane Feinstein with the ability to give up her current Chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee to take the vacated Judiciary slot, leaving the Intelligence Committee Chair open to Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
So much for conventional wisdom…
Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Leahy announced that he would not seek the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, and would remain Judiciary Chair in the 113th Congress as that committee attempts to tackle high profile issues including gun control and immigration.  This announcement immediately stymied the potential changes for Senators Feinstein and Mikulski, and left open the leadership on Approps to the next most senior member – Tom Harkin.
But in a surprising, and highly important announcement, Sen. Harkin expressed his desire to pass up the Full Appropriations Committee Chairmanship, in order to maintain his position as the head of the HELP Committee and the Subcommittee Appropriations Chairmanship responsible for Labor, HHS, and Education funding.  As noted from the quote below, Sen. Harkin's reasons for passing up the position include his desire to continue to pursue education reform.
Ultimately this decision provided an opportunity for Senator Mikulski to ascend to the top slot on Appropriations, becoming the first woman to lead the Committee.
It should be apparent the implications of the decision Senator Harkin made to pass up this highly coveted position…

Senate OKs bill aimed at protecting GI benefits

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By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Dec 20, 2012 6:16:49 EST

A landmark veterans bill aimed at protecting valuable GI Bill benefits from being wasted passed the Senate late Wednesday and is on its way to final passage in the House.

The compromise bill prevents schools that receive veterans’ education benefits from paying bounties for recruiting students and requires the VA to provide more consumer-oriented information to help veterans pick which schools to attend.

Called the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act, the measure was first introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who is concerned that veterans lack information to make wise choices when it comes to choosing schools.

“As our nation’s heroes make the transition from the battlefield to civilian life, we must do everything we can to arm veterans with the information they need to make informed decisions about their educational benefits, and ultimately ensure they remain competitive in today’s market,” Bilirakis said in a statement about the bill, HR 4057.

Although Bilirakis is the sponsor, the final bill is the result of negotiations between the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees, which had their own separate legislation. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., the lawmaker behind creation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, was chief sponsor of the Senate’s similar legislation.

Some of the consumer-related information is being collected by the VA under an executive order signed earlier this year by President Obama.

Part of the purpose of the bill is to have information available in one place. Veterans’ advocates have said that would make it easier for a person who has spent years in the service and doesn’t know much about higher educational institutions to discover facts that would help her decide which school to attend. A provision of the compromise bill tells the VA to avoid duplication with other programs as much as possible, suggesting the VA needs to have a only single website that contains links to information outside the VA, such as Education Department guides for non-veterans.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the House Veterans Affairs’ Committee chairman, said one of the reasons for pushing the bill is to try to prevent veterans, who generally have only 36 months of GI Bill benefits, from wasting them on courses or institutions that don’t meet their long-term goals.

“This bipartisan legislation will provide much needed tools for student veterans to make better informed decisions on how to use their educational benefits,” Miller said in a statement. “By empowering veterans with more information for post-secondary educational options, their hard-earned benefit will go further to put them on a path to meaningful employment in the civilian sector... Continue reading.



Truckpocalypse - Will the world end Friday? It would without trucks.

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Interactive Truckpocalypse graphic illustrates the vital role trucks play in our lives.
TUSCALOOSA, ALA. (December 2012) - According to the Mayans, this Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, will be the Apocalypse, the complete and final destruction of the world. While the imminent end of the world is dubious at best, one thing is certain: If the nation's 3 million trucks were to stop running, the world as we know it would grind to a halt.

That's the premise of Truckpocalypse, an infographic that walks the reader through the chaos that would ensue in the days and weeks after trucks stop. For example:

  • After three hours, major gas stations would run out of fuel, manufacturers would face component shortages and hospitals would run out of critical supplies;
  • After one day, grocery stores would have shortages of food;
  • After several days, garbage would pile up, threatening health and the environment, the airlines would stop, and consumers would begin to panic over shortages.

Truckpocalypse was created by Trucker Classifieds, a new website devoted to helping truck drivers find local driving jobs, using data from the American Trucking Association. Trucker Classifieds ( is a product of Randall-Reilly's Recruiting Media, which has a network of more than 30 websites dedicated to helping match truck drivers with good driving jobs.

"We created Truckpocalypse to illustrate the importance of the trucking industry to the nation's economy and to our entire way of life," says Scott Miller, senior vice president, sales at Randall-Reilly. "We hope it will make people pause and remember that if they have it, a truck brought it."

To download and share truckpocalypse, go to And remember, without trucks, America stops!

Despite Recent Changes to CSA Program, Industry Concerns Remain

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — If there was ever any doubt that the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is rattling the freight industry, a recent all-day meeting of industry stakeholders here made it crystal clear that truckers, shippers, brokers and nonprofit groups alike still have concerns with the program.

Despite a consensus that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new safety monitoring program is a step in the right direction, truckers said they remain concerned that the scoring data is not always an accurate predictor of crash risk.

Shippers and brokers say they are grappling with how to use CSA data to help them determine which carriers are the safest to haul their freight... Continue reading (log-in to TTnews is required.)

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