Rogers is right to be miffed at Job Corps closing

USDA Photo

Automotive Repair is just one of the programs offered by the Pine Knot Job Corps CCC, which has been targeted for closure this fall after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the agency is withdrawing from the Job Corps centers it operates across the country.

 

In these "party first" political times it's a rare to see an elected official shoot arrows at his own tribe.

So kudos to Somerset Congressman Hal Rogers for opting to take a stand for what he sees as an injustice within his district perpetrated by the Trump Administration -- an administration Rogers supports and one that is supported by a vast majority of his constituents.

Rogers' Fifth Congressional District is one that has long fought the ravages of poverty -- and McCreary County is certainly one of the poorest and most job-hungry, not only in the district, but in the entire nation.

So when it was announced last week that the Pine Knot Job Corps Center would be shut down -- courtesy of the Trump Administration -- it obviously caught Rogers off guard.

"Without any prior warning to Congress, we received a notification late this morning to the detriment of Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, including our center in Pine Knot, Kentucky," Congressman Rogers told the Commonwealth Journal last week.

The impact to the already-bleak McCreary County will be resounding: It will lose 52 federal jobs and 11 other contracted positions -- many of those retired teachers who help with the Job Corps high school program.

But beyond that, several agencies and programs will lose support from the center and its students. As just one local example, Pine Knot's urban forestry students could always be counted on for tree maintenance in the Alpine and Keno areas of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

The Pine Knot center has also worked very closely with Rogers' brainchild, PRIDE, as its volunteers were a key to cleanup efforts throughout the region.

The Job Corps provides education and job training for disadvantaged young people, almost all from outside McCreary County. Supporters say the program creates opportunities for those who have had trouble succeeding in traditional schools.

"I have had the pleasure of attending countless Job Corps events and graduations over the years to witness the confidence and guidance that these programs give our young people who need it most," Rogers said.

The programs the Pine Knot center offers include carpentry, auto mechanics, culinary arts, urban forestry and computer technology for students ages 16 to 24, Larry E. King, who retired from the McCreary County center and was vice president for all the civilian conservation centers in the country, told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"I have always supported federal funding for Job Corps programs and as we gain more information, I hope to work in a coordinated effort with my colleagues toward an alternative solution," Rogers said last week. Rogers added that that he and others will send a letter "expressing our opposition and asking them to keep these important programs open."

We would encourage our Congressman to roll up his sleeves and go to battle for the Pine Knot Job Corps Center, and all the benefits it provides not only McCreary County, but the entire area.

With Rogers' gallant record of fighting for his constituents in the Fifth District, we are confident we will get no less.

THE COMMONWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD consists of Michael McCleery, Publisher; Jeff Neal, Editor; Bill Mardis, Editor Emeritus; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; Chris Harris, Staff Writer; and Shirley Randall, Production.