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Blackwell Officials Hoping Public Rallies On The Center's Behalf

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Officials at the Blackwell Job Corps facility near Laona are hoping the public rallies to support keeping the facility open.

The Job Corps centers, help train 16-24 year olds in wildland firefighting, forestry, culinary arts, welding, and other trades. Many of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, while helping conservation efforts on public lands. Blackwell has operated in Forest county for 55 years.

Blackwell guidance counselor Lorie Almazan said the announcement came as a shock to students and staff...

"...We are doing our very best to work with community folks and anyone who values the Job Corps program and their students to get their training and their diplomas here. We're working with everyone we can in the hope this decision will be overturned...."

Almazan says the news was especially shocking given a recent award...

"...What we were told was that several 'under-performing' centers were going to be closed down. That's very interesting because the Tuesday after that announcement was given to us, we received an exemplary performance award for being a top performer. That award came in the mail after the news that we were potentially being closed..."

Almazan says she and her husband, who also works at Blackwell, would have to leave the area to find work.

At least 54 jobs are affected by the closure.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin again Tuesday renewed her call to keep the Laona center open, saying she's written to the department secretaries involved, Agriculture and Labor, and is rounding up support. She introduced the 'Job Corps Protection Act' that blocks the administration from using federal government funds to close any Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers.

Lorie Almazan asked the public to contact their members of Congress to protest the closure.

We will have more on this issue Saturday morning at 8:35 on WXPR Saturday Edition.

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