Aug 11, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterU.S. Sen. Mike Enzi got special recognition
Invited community members and local government officials showered gratitude upon U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi on Friday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Wind River Job Corps Center in Riverton.
In July, the Department of Labor announced the selection of Rafter H Construction LLC from Rexburg, Idaho as the low bidder to complete the $41.3 million project in 2015.
Preparations have accelerated since then for the coming of the center that will give about 300 students training in trades that focus in the energy industry, construction, heavy equipment, diesel mechanics, and electrical and facilities maintenance.
The availability of this coursework and many others has provided a promising future for young adults of Wyoming. State representatives and legislators, others from Central Wyoming College, Fremont County Board of Cooperative Educational Services, city officials, the Wyoming Department of Education, tribal leaders, local school officials and citizens offered a standing ovation to Enzi as he was welcomed into the ceremony.
"Without your perseverance, commitment, and ability to work the across party lines, this job corps center would not be a reality," said Fremont County BOCES executive director Sandy Barton. "He's known for listening to different points of view, studying the facts, the testimony and actually reading the bills."
Barton added that it was initially through Enzi that local leaders learned that the state finally would get a Job Corps center after Riverton's application appeared to have stalled several times.
"Each time the city council here, county commissioners and others learned from the previous application and made another application, and it's that kind of persistence that finally resulted in having this," Enzi said.
It was Enzi's consistent effort, Barton said, in Washington that led to the center finally being approved Wyoming. Wyoming and New Hampshire are the only two states that do not have a Job Corps center, although tiny New Hampshire has two nearby.
Enzi returned the compliment of achievement to the attendees and his fellow senate members and other government officials who helped in his efforts.
"A project like this is not any one person's doing, and there's a whole lot of ground work but that has to be done before anything can be done," he said. "People on both sides of the aisle were willing to protect this project."
Funding proved to be a problem repeatedly, Enzi said.
"Every year there was a request to re-program the money for this center," Enzi said, adding that the money went somewhere else more repeatedly.
The payoff of skilled training and economical gains that Wind River Job Corps expects to provide for Riverton and Wyoming was reiterated many times by Barton and Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness.
"With our initial student body of 300 students and a staff of 100, the impact economically will be significant to our community, but more importantly is the positive impact of the lives of 300 students it will serve," Warpness said.
The center is planned to cover an area of about 162,000 square feet with a total of seven buildings. There are plans for a welcome center, administrative building, wellness and student service buildings, an educational and vocational building, a cafeteria and warehouse building, dormitories, and a recreation center. Expansion could occur in the future.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that in the program years 2011-2012, for the 125 Job Corps centers in the United States, a national average of 61.8 percent attained a completed career technical training, and 77.3 percent attained an approved industry-recognized credential. Overall, 81.7 percent of those who completed the program were placed in a job, the military, pursued higher education, or advanced to an advanced training program at another Job Corps center.
"This Job Corps is going to bring a breath of fresh air to employment, and hope for our young people that are currently suffering in this area," Warpness said. "This Job Corps will be the difference between a bleak, hopeless future and one of prosperity for hundreds of our citizens who want it."
Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribe liaisons to Gov. Matt Mead, Sara Robinson and Gary Collins, thanked Enzi on behalf of tribal leaders. Robinson recognized Enzi for what she said was full commitment and partnership that would give more opportunities for tribal members.
"This is a godsend for our youth and young adults,' she said. "We're no longer being asked to leave (Wyoming) for work."
Collins pointed out that five governments had to work together to bring this center forward -- city, county, tribal, state and the federal government.
"It's the significant communication that makes a difference," Collins said. "It's a good project in difficult times that makes for a better opportunity."
He described the tribes as "key players" in the development of the center.
"It's going to bring hope and inspiration, and that's what they need," said Willard Gould, business council member for the Northern Arapaho tribe.
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