By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Three years after the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (OJCCC) almost had its doors closed for good, the Center is thriving. “It is ranked 36th out of 122 Job Corps Centers nationwide,” Danny Muse, OJCCC academic manager, told the members of the Job Corps Community Relations Council at a meeting held at the Center on Thursday, Dec. 2.
Muse, an employee at OJCCC since 1976, said they also rank 7th in literacy, 3rd in numeracy and 3rd in graduate placement. Since June, 18 students have received their GED.
“This is a stepping stone for them,” said Muse, “and we’re working very diligently to help them get there.”
The Community Relations Council was formed in June as a way to garner community and regional support for the students and their needs. Information from the Council states the ideals of the group includes: creation of sustainable vision and goals, development and strengthening of partnerships, address local needs while fostering employment and lifelong skills in students and designing a culture of commitment and stewardship.
Holly Krake, OJCCC business community liaison, related that there are currently 68 students enrolled at the Center and they performed a total of 13,270 work-based learning hours this year. “Based on common wages, that would total over $240,000 of labor hours that students have put into the community.”
She said OJCCC students have volunteered at numerous area businesses, organizations and events including: Far West Special Olympics hosted in Cherokee, EBCI Dora Reed Childcare Center, “Meet Me in the Smokie” Open Charity Golf event, EBCI Fisheries and Wildlife, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, and more.
OJCCC has plans to expand in 2011 by doubling their enrollment and adding four next programs, sponsored by the Home Builder’s Institute, including: Carpentry, Electrical, Facilities Maintenance, and HVAC.
Krake said the volunteer and career opportunities all help tremendously with the development of students. “All of those are reasons that students get vested into the program and dedicate themselves to finish.”
For information on the Community Relations Council or to find out how your business or organization can partner with OJCCC, contact Holly Krake 497-8062.