As Arkansans began the long Memorial Day weekend, the Trump administration quietly announced that it plans to shutter or outsource all of the nation’s rural Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, including one in Ozark, Arkansas, that offers free-of-charge education and vocational training to young men and women between the ages of 16 to 24.
In a statement posted late Friday on the U.S. Department of Labor website, DOL officials said they accepted a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stating that the USDA’s Forest Service will withdraw from operating the 28 Job Corps centers across the U.S. Those programs were first established by former President Lyndon Johnson as part of his Great Society plan to help economically disadvantaged youth in selected rural and urban areas across the U.S.
“This action creates an opportunity to serve a greater number of students at higher performing centers at a lower cost to taxpayers by modernizing and reforming part of the Job Corps program,” the Labor Department said in a news release. “The U.S. Department of Labor reviewed the CCCs performance and outcome measurements, internal controls, capacity and proximity, costs, and ongoing needs of each CCC against the overall Job Corps program to determine the best path forward.”
Based on the administration’s review, the majority of CCC operations will be replaced by new contract operators or a partnership overseen by Department of Labor. Centers with new operators will implement new policies and approaches that will offer students the skills they need to earn an independent living and succeed in meaningful in-demand jobs, officials said.
A Federal Register Notice will propose nine CCCs for deactivation, DOL officials said, including the Cass Job Center in Ozark that offers a tuition-free training and education in such technical areas as advance manufacturing, culinary arts, bricklaying, heavy equipment operations and carpentry.
A voice message at the Cass job training center in the Ozark National Forest said the office was closed for the Memorial Day weekend. The center is located on 35 acres in rural Arkansas along the banks of Fane Creek near the Mulberry Scenic River and the Ozark National Forest. All students in the program live on the Job Corps campus, which includes a dormitory, cafeteria, store and several activity and fitness facilities.
Altogether, the shutdown or restructuring of the rural Job Corps centers nationwide could affect more than 1,100 workers, although there was no information on how many positions at the Cass campus would be impacted.
“Implementation will be done in a way that minimizes impact on students, allowing each student to complete their technical training program or transfer to another center to do so,” said Labor Department officials.
The CCC downsizing will not impact 125 Job Corps offices across the U.S., including the Little Rock office, which offers similar technical training programs for urban teenagers and youth. DOL officials said the administration will seek to increase student access to Job Corps centers with the highest sustained student performance outcomes.
“The Department will continue to ensure student access to the program through a commitment to maintain at least one Job Corps center in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico,” officials said.
Below are the nine CCC locations slated to be deactivated:
Anaconda CCC in Anaconda, Montana; Blackwell CCC in Laona, Wisconsin; Cass CCC in Ozark, Arkansas; Flatwoods CCC in Coeburn, Virginia; Fort Simcoe CCC in White Swan, Washington; Frenchburg CCC in Frenchburg, Kentucky; Oconaluftee CCC in Cherokee, North Carolina; Pine Knot CCC in Pine Knot, Kentucky; and Timber Lake CCC in Estacada, Oregon.
Sixteen CCCs will continue under a new contract operator or partnership. They include: Angell CCC in Yachats, Oregon; Boxelder CCC in Nemo, South Dakota; Centennial CCC in Nampa, Idaho; Collbran CCC in Collbran, Colorado; Columbia Basin CCC in Moses Lake, Washington; Curlew CCC in Curlew, Washington; Great Onyx CCC in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky; Harpers Ferry CCC in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; Lyndon Johnson CCC in Franklin, North Carolina; Jacobs Creek CCC in Bristol, Tennessee; Mingo CCC in Puxico, Missouri; Pine Ridge CCC in Chadron, Nebraska; Schenck CCC in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina; Trapper Creek CCC in Darby, Montana; Weber Basin CCC in Ogden, Utah; and Wolf Creek CCC in Glide, Oregon.