By Aila Boyd

U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-6th, took a tour of the Botetourt Technical Education Center (BTEC) last Friday afternoon before his town hall meeting.

Cline and his communications director Ryan Saylor were accompanied by BTEC Principal Shaun Sparks, Superintendent John Busher, Supervisor of CTE and Adult Education Mike Ketron, and Anna Weddle, who represents the Amsterdam District on the School Board.

Cline, who is from Rockbridge County, observed that the career and technical education center at Rockbridge County High School is significantly smaller than BTEC.

While there, he spoke with students and teachers in the following programs: cybersecurity, criminal justice, cosmetology, computer systems technology, building trades, auto service, aerospace technology, engineering, information systems technology, mechatronics, and nurse aide.

Cline informed the students of a first-year criminal justice class that he succeeded former Congressman Bob Goodlatte and has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for a little more than 100 days.

I’m just getting the hang of it,” Cline said of being a congressman.

When asked about his thoughts on Washington, Cline responded, “It’s a mess.” He went on to explain that he has a greater appreciation for the way in which Virginia is governed. “It’s a different kind of challenge because when I was going to Richmond, the biggest difference was dealing with folks from Fairfax and Richmond and Norfolk, but now I deal with congressmen and women from California, New York, Washington, Texas, Florida, everywhere. There are a lot of different attitudes about how government should run. We’re trying to work together to keep this country moving forward in the right direction,” he added.

The students were later quizzed on how long terms are for House of Representatives members and how many members comprise the lower chamber of Congress. After some initial trepidation, the students responded that terms are for two years and that the House is comprised of 435 members.

Towards the end of the tour, Cline tested his welding skills on a virtual welding machine.

I’m amazed at the diversity, options, and advanced technology you have in here,” Cline said to school officials.