Oct 18, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterCounty officials working to bring the Wind River Job Corps to Riverton received an updated timeline from the Department of Labor last month that indicates the facility should be completed by the end of 2015.
Sandy Barton, executive director of the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Educational Services, said the schedule is informal. She said the first timeline she received from the department five years ago showed the Job Corps up and running by 2011.
"They give these to us as a guideline they're trying to work on," Barton said this week. "And we really have to give them thanks for at least giving us this."
She said there have been no issues with funding that have contributed to the timeline modification, which she did not characterize as a delay.
"I don't think it's really been pushed back, I just think it's (Washington), D.C.," Barton said. "It's politics."
Barton said President Barack Obama wanted project labor agreements to be part of every new Job Corps endeavor, but he received pushback from a group in New Hampshire that opposed the requirement in court. Their lawsuit was successful, Barton said, and the requirement was waived in New Hampshire.
"And, they're expecting, (in) Wyoming," Barton said.
She added that she has not heard any official announcement about a waiver for the WRJC.
"We're just not real concerned about that," Barton said. "New Hampshire has trailblazed the way on that."
According to the new timeline, the Department of Labor may start its nationwide search for contractors on the WRJC project this month. Barton said the job will be posted at fbo.gov.
A contract is set to be awarded in early 2013, with construction beginning soon after that. Plans for operation of the Job Corps are expected to be formulated in 2014 so they are ready in time for the center to be occupied in mid-2015.
Barton added that it's helpful that the city already has installed infrastructure at the future site of the Job Corps near the Riverton Regional Airport.
"That will be three or four months ahead of the game," she said.
Mayor Ron Warpness said his contact at U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi's office indicated that the timeline was "on track" so far.
"We're hopeful," he said this week. "But until (the official word) comes out of Sen. Enzi's office, we're all just saying our prayers at night."
Once it is completed, the $30-40 million Job Corps should employ 100 people and serve 550 students ages 16 to 24. The education and training facility is designed to help young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job.
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