Opposition from lawmakers and stakeholders across the country has led the U.S. departments of labor and agriculture to reverse a decision about the future of the Job Corps program—saving the Flatwoods center in Southwest Virginia.
Last month, the Department of Labor announced that the U.S. Forest Service intended to withdraw from operating the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers. The change would have resulted in the closure of the Flatwoods Job Corps in Coeburn, Virginia, and new operations at the Jacobs Creek Job Corps in Bristol, Tennessee, by the end of the year.
Officials at the local, state and federal level quickly raised concerns about the changes.
A USDA and DOL spokesperson told the Bristol Herald Courier on Wednesday evening that the USDA does not intent to transfer the centers to the DOL.
“Following robust engagement with stakeholders and members of Congress regarding the future of the USFS Job Corps centers, USDA has notified DOL that the USFS will evaluate the feedback while reviewing its role in Job Corps management and operation,” the spokesperson said.
As a result, the spokesperson said this will allow management to “determine a pathway that will maximize opportunity and results for students, minimize disruptions and improve overall performance and integrity.”
The DOL and USDA will conduct a review to determine the appropriate course of action, the spokesperson added.
“As USDA looks to the future, it is imperative the USFS focuses on and prioritizes its core natural resource mission to improve the condition and resilience of our nation’s forests,” the spokesperson said.
The news keeps Flatwoods, which has a $6 million economic impact on the community, from closing.