Dear Editor,

I’m writing to share with you the thoughts of many in the Chadron area regarding the recent proposed changes in the management of the federal Job Corps program. The Secretaries of Agriculture and Labor have agreed to close 9 Job Corps Centers and turn over the remaining USDA-run centers to Department of Labor by September 30, 2019.

In western Nebraska at the Pine Ridge Job Corps Center (PRJC), 56 employees will be RIF’ed. While we have been told that the services will be privately contracted out and the programs will continue as previously offered, we don’t believe that to be true. Contract-run Centers will not work with US Forest Service to supply crews for fire-fighting services. Contract Centers in other locations have not been known to provide the 1000’s of hours on projects. In 2019 PRJC accomplished more than 30 projects in the region, accumulating 14,779 hours. Contract Centers have been viewed as profit driven.

PRJC salaries alone are $4.1 million annually. If former employees leave our community, they will likely take entire families. There is not a business in this community that will not feel the loss of 50 families leaving our community.

We aren’t being allowed to weigh in on the decision to transfer management from USDA to DOL. We have not been asked about the value these Centers have provided to the students, to the communities and the employees this past 55 years.

Please join with us and contact your Congressional delegation at the websites below, or give them a call. Ask them to reconsider USDA and Labor’s decision to eliminate centers and place some under private contract. They need to hear from us how devastating this will be to our community.

Senator Deb Fischer 202-224-6551

Senator Ben Sasse 202-224-4224

Congressman Adrian Smith 202-225-6435

Clayton Riesen, Chairman

Pine Ridge Job Corps Center

Community Relations Committee