Just as some economic developers have started preaching the need for more skills training of young people, the federal government is about to shut down some major providers of those programs.

Job Corps programs are on the chopping block, including the potential for the closure of the Great Onyx Job Corps in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Closing the center could be devastating to the community agencies that benefit from the work of corps students and take away valuable training, according to Edmonson County Judge-Executive N.E. Reed.

Reed is urging area residents and leaders to write their congressmen and submit comments in support of keeping the Great Onyx center open. The Federal Register is seeking comments about what methodology it should use in determining closures of Job Corps centers.

Robby Owens, 22, of Lexington, is a student at the Job Corps and hopes the government does what it can to keep his center open.

While Owens will be finished with his program before any closures would begin, he said the Great Onyx Job Corps provides a valuable service to up to 214 students, ages 16 to 24.

Owens, a high school graduate, received welding training in high school. But to get a job, he has to have a certification, so since August that’s what he has been working toward at Great Onyx.

By welding gates at Land Between the Lakes, he gets on-the-job training and instruction in what he needs to know to pass the certification test.

His training, meals, room and board and a small stipend are given to him for participating in the program, something that Owens and other low-income participants likely would not otherwise be able to afford.

“It is helping a lot of students make a better life for themselves,” Owens said.

He characterizes his own job prospects after getting certification as excellent.

The center at Mammoth Cave also has an Urban Forestry Training Program whose students help with removal of hazardous or non-native trees around the hotel and visitors center, and with clearing the way for a new bike and hiking path, according to Vickie Carson, public information officer for Mammoth Cave National Park.

“We tell them what needs to be done and they do it,” Carson said.

Carson said there is no telling how much work the program has contributed to the park.

Reed said students in other programs such as masonry and carpentry have made improvements at one of the school cafeterias, worked on the health department building and the county’s relatively new library. They also have worked at county park facilities.

“Closing the center here would be a severe economic stress,” Reed said.

Not only do center students help out multiple public agencies, the corps provides employment for 70 people.

“It’s our third-largest employer,” Reed said.

It’s unclear just how many centers will close, and the Federal Register indicates it will try to keep open at least one center in each state. Kentucky has seven Job Corps centers, including one in Muhlenberg County.

— Comments are requested by Feb. 11 and should be sent to: National Director, Office of Job Corps, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N4459, Washington, DC 20210. Comments should be submitted as soon as possible because mail may be delayed for security reasons.

(1) comment


as I am currently here at great onyx unless you are actually here day in and day out you have no clue what goes on here there is hardly any structure here what so ever and people are allowed to do what ever they want and the rules here keep on changing daily and when people here I mean students try to voice there opinion they shut down and in some cases get in trouble and I hope this place does get shut down do to the fact two days ago when the people from job corps in Washington dc were here an hr before they git here they took a bus a bad students who show there but here every day they were token on a all day trip off center to the movies and other place because the staff here dident want to make the center bad looking wile the top officals were here another rhing is this place is a health hazard to every one here on center thers mold in the area where every one eats there meals daily and just last week when I was working kp the staff in the kitchen expects the students to do there eork for them and they just sit on there asses and they still get paid for it and they work you like slaves here some thing needs to be done about this place because people here are getting tired of the staff and the center director also this place needs to get shut down as soon as possblie do to a lot of other reasons also bi caint stress enough that this place needs to get shut down asap because of helth reasons and if the mold problem dosent get taken care of here oon parents are going to be getting a bunch of there children sent back home do to sickness and the mold

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