Training center in Mt. Hood forest may close
Timber Lake Job Corps in the Mt. Hood National Forest is one of nine Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers that the federal government has proposed for deactivation.
On May 24, the U.S. Department of Labor accepted a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating the USDA's Forest Service will withdraw from operating Job Corps Civilian Conservation centers. At some Job Corps centers, operations will continue under new contract operators or by a partnership overseen by the Department of Labor.
Along with Timber Lake Job Corps, eight other centers are proposed for deactivation include ones in Anaconda, Montana; Laona, Wisconsin; Ozark, Arkansas; Coeburn, Virginia; White Swan, Washington; Frenchburg, Kentucky; Cherokee, North Carolina; and Pine Knot, Kentucky.
"The U.S. Department of Labor reviewed the CCCs performance and outcome measurements, internal controls, capacity and proximity, costs and ongoing needs of each CCC against the overall Job Corps program to determine the best path forward," a Department of Labor spokesperson told the Estacada News.
A Federal Register Notice of the proposal is available at www.federalregister.gov, and public comment will be accepted through July 1.
Timber Lake Job Corps has worked with many organizations in Estacada. The group has assisted with landscaping, painting and food service at the Estacada Community Center, and culinary students have served at several events for the Estacada Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, for the past several years, the center has hosted students from Clackamas River Elementary for an end of the school year fishing trip. They also have volunteered at the Summer Celebration, Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival, at local parades and with maintenance projects around town.
Forestry and firefighting students help with trail restoration, prescribed burns and a variety of other duties. In 2018, students across the Job Corps program spent 357,824 fighting fires.
Estacada Community Center director and Chamber of Commerce board member Christina Richartz has appreciated working with students from Timber Lake Job Corps.
"They're young and upcoming individuals passionate about what they do," she said, noting that the culinary students are responsible for everything from setting up and serving to cleaning up after an event. "It's hands-on training on the job. We appreciate their time and effort."
Timber Lake Job Corps opened in 1964. The program currently has 181 students who range in age from 16 to 24.
In addition to a high school diploma program, the center offers trade specializations in areas such as automotive, carpentry, culinary arts, electrical, firefighting, office administration, painting and welding. In order to graduate, students must have their high school diploma, complete a trade certification and earn a primary credential in their trade.
Brian Hickman of Timber Lake Job Corps noted that being involved in the local community has been a good experience for the students.
"The tie in with the community, and community involvement is a good thing," he said. "(Students) get to see the work that they're doing and how it benefits the community."
Hickman criticized the proposal to close Timber Lake Job Corps, particularly given the center's rankings. For 2017-18, the center earned a 93.5% ranking for outcome measurements.
"For the administration to say we're one of the worst centers in the nation is
not true. We've got data that says that's false," Hickman said.