CAO wants to retain workforce designation

Published 9:59 am Thursday, July 23, 2015

An unexpected decision by the Lawrence County Commissioners last week has the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization working to keep control of their workforce development program.

Now a public debate may be on the agenda for today’s commission meeting.

When the commissioners met for their July 16 meeting at the fairgrounds, a motion was made by commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. and seconded by commission president Les Boggs to switch who administered the Work Investment Opportunity Act that funds part of the workforce development program or OneStop from the CAO to the Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services.

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“We had a resolution for next year to make that designation (with the CAO),” CAO executive director D.R. Gossett said. “We have a 10-year resolution with the county, but we still have to have an annual resolution.”

The commissioners tabled that, but according to Gossett had indicated to assistant director of the CAO, Ralph Kline, that there was no problem in retaining the CAO as administrator.

“We just learned they passed 2 to 0 designating that money from the workforce center to job and family services to administer that program,” Gossett said. “It was a huge surprise, especially to Ralph.”

Every 10 to 15 years Congress appropriates the WIOA money and county commissions determine what organization administers the program.

“We were somewhat surprised since we have been given a 10-year resolution,” Gossett said. “We have done an outstanding job. To come in and change course was a pretty good surprise a week or so before we were told we were OK.”

Now the CAO wants to present its case to the commission, Gossett said.

“There is plenty of time to reverse,” he said. “The more they see the facts, they will be in a position to change.”

Boggs said he is willing to discuss the situation with all the parties involved.

A call made to Hayes was not returned by press time.

At the July 16 meeting, commissioner Bill Pratt abstained in the vote because he is on the CAO board and that there was no discussion on the matter.