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(Neb)-USDA Wants To Close 9 Job Corps Center, But Pine Ridge Not On The Closure List

By: John Axtell Posted at: 05/28/2019 11:59 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - The Trump administration is proposing to restructure the Job Corps program, which trains low-income students in a variety of vocational career fields.

       Currently, the Forest Service, part of the USDA, operates 25 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, including the Pine Ridge Center south of Chadron and Boxelder west of Rapid City, with the rest of the Job Corps program part of the Labor Department.

       Under the proposal announced Friday, just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, 9 of the Forest Service centers would close and the remaining 16 - including Pine Ridge and Boxelder - would shift to the Labor Dept under a new contract operator or partnership. The Forest Service centers are the only ones operated by federal employees.

       The National Federation of Federal Employees, the union that represents Forest Service workers, says the move will cut more than 1,000 jobs. Forest Service head VIctoria Christiansen says it will be a "very difficult transition" which should be completed by the end of the year with a "reduction in force."
 
   Christensen says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue "has a goal of efficient and effective government,"and believes the mission of the Job Corps better aligns with the Labor Department.

     Perdue, in a letter to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, wrote the move would help the Forest Service prioritize its "core natural resource mission to improve the condition and resilience of our nation's forests, and step away from activities and programs that are not essential to that core mission."
  
    The Labor Dept announcement of the plan on Friday said it "creates an opportunity to serve a greater number of students at higher performing centers at a lower cost to taxpayers by modernizing and reforming part of the Job Corps program."

      Job Corps was begun in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society effort with the Pine Ridge Center opening a year later in 1965.  The 25 Forest Service centers train about 4,000 young people ages 16-to-24 each year


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