By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — The number of individuals participating in the county's workforce development program are down, but those who are participating are the “most needy of the needy,” Diana Williams, administrator at Opportunity Knox Employment Center, told the county commissioners on Thursday.
“They are the ones who truly have barriers to getting employment,” agreed Matthew Kurtz, director of Knox County Job & Family Services.
Some individuals have an unexpected setback, resolve the issue and go back to work. “Those who we work with a lot have serious drug or alcohol control issues or mental health issues,” she said. “So many of them fall outside of how we can help.”
She said Opportunity Knox works closely with community organizations such as TouchPointe and KnoxWorks to help individuals achieve the four steps to self-sufficiency: job readiness, search, retention and advancement. Efforts include helping high school students attain enough credits to graduate, help with GED training if they do not graduate and teaching such basic things as learning how to change a flat tire so that they can still get to work.
Williams said the summer employment program will start the end of May; the contractor working with the program is renting space at the Escape Zone. The plan is to put a case manager at the Escape Zone to work with the parents of the children attending Escape Zone activities.
“I don't think there's been a year that I have been this excited with the stuff that's happening in the community,” she said.
Jeff Pickrell, water/wastewater superintendent, told the commissioners that the department was getting back to normal after three waterline breaks earlier in the week. Lining the manholes to seal leaks continues in Pleasant View Acres. Well No. 3 is cleaned; Pickrell is waiting to get a pump and motor. The plan is to clean and rehab the well next year, if possible, rather than dig a new well.
Pickrell said his department has started upgrading the computer system that controls and monitors the well fields. He has a conference call scheduled next with the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss erosion in the Kokosing River near the well field; the EPA will then make a site visit and hopefully the county will receive grant funding to stabilize the erosion.
Dog Warden John Carhart updated the commissioners on March statistics for the Knox County Animal Shelter. The shelter took in 40 dogs, including 27 stray and nine owner surrender; 40 dogs left the shelter, including 15 adoptions, 10 returned to their owner and nine transferred. Six were euthanized, five surrendered by their owners for an aged/ailing and one due to aggression toward humans. As of Wednesday, 27 dogs were in the shelter, including one on medical hold due to neglect. That dog is awaiting a medical foster home while it stabilizes.