The Ottumwa Courier

July 23, 2013

Triumphs and challenges at Job Corps

By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Though far from perfect, things are looking a little brighter at Ottumwa's Job Corps Center.

"Job Corps has had a rocky year," said Mark Douglas, the center director.

For months, centers were forbidden to accept new students. Douglas addressed a group of interested business people and other leaders at the Tuesday meeting for the Community Advisory Committee at the Job Corps site. He said the disappointment about the enrollment freeze was national, but was especially tough on newer centers like the one in Ottumwa because they were not at full strength. Plans had been to ramp up to 300 students. Enrollment stalled out just over halfway to that goal. Even plans to hire more employees were put on hold.

The good news, said Douglas, is that the freeze has been lifted, that more employees are in the process of being hired and that the nation-wide program has a new director who believes in the program.

The bad news, Douglas announced to members of the community, is that the "contracted number" of students has dropped from 300 to 237.

But he's optimistic.

"We are taking new students at a rate of 10 to 15 a week," he said.

To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark