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Job Corps in new federal budget
A site west of Riverton near Riverton; Regional Airport has been designated for the Wind River Job Corps Center. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

Job Corps in new federal budget

Feb 16, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge Staff Writer

Wyoming U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi says progress is being made on the Riverton Job Corps front.

After speaking with senior officials Friday, Enzi said he was encouraged that the Department of Labor's 2013 budget seems to indicate strong support for forming a Job Corps in Riverton.

"This is the first time we have had anything in writing, which really confirms progress," Enzi said.

The Job Corps program has centers in 48 states. Wyoming and New Hampshire are the only two without one. The Wind River Job Corps Center was awarded to the State of Wyoming in February 2007, along with centers in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Job Corps helps train young adults to be successful members of society. The Job Corps center in Riverton would provide academic assistance and career and technical training to about 550 students from around the state.

High school and general equivalency diploma programs would be offered along with career and technical education courses that will help prepare young people for careers in high-skill, high-growth industries.

Job Corps serves roughly 60,000 individuals a year. In 2010, nearly 65 percent of Job Corps enrollees were high school dropouts, nearly 47 percent were unemployed at the time of enrollment, and 40.2 percent were from families receiving public assistance.

Enzi and his staff continue to work with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and other Department of Labor staff in the advancement of the project.

Sandy Barton, the executive director of Fremont County Board of Cooperative Education Services, said she is excited that Enzi released such a positive statement on the progress of the Wind River Job Corps and remains optimistic and enthusiastic that construction will begin soon.

"We have received reports back and forth (from Enzi's office)," Barton said. "He has been very good about keeping all of us informed about what is going on but, of course, when his office releases a press release you get really excited about that."

Barton has been working on the Wind River Job Corps project since 2005.

"I put the application together in partnership with the City of Riverton and Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes," she said.

Barton recently returned from a trip to the Job Corps center in Collbran, Colo., to review the facility's operation and get a better understanding of how to implement one in Riverton.

She said that Job Corps programs have a six-month waiting list.

"Ours will be filled with students from Wyoming in no time at all," she said.

"Ours is the only energy-related Job Corps, and you can see the number of jobs in the energy field that are coming into the Fremont County area," Barton said. "They will be waiting in line to get into ours."

Mayor Ron Warpness said he is excited about the release from Enzi and is very interested in moving ahead with this project as quickly as possible.

"This is one of the more positive things that has been reported to us, and it was encouraging to read that the Department of Labor supports the goal of having a Job Corps in every state," Warpness said.

City administrator Steven Weaver said he is hopeful that progress is being made but regrets there is not a clear time frame to work with.

"It is good to know that Wyoming is not being pushed to the wayside," Weaver said. "The fact there is a goal to have one in every state is a positive thing. There has been a lot of work put into the Job Corps up until this point, and I am hopeful it will happen. I would just love to know a better time frame."