Troup County on Dec. 17 created a scholarship in honor of outgoing LaGrange Mayor Jeff Lukken to fund additional candidates for the Troup Trained program.
The Troup County Development Authority is expected to create the scholarship with input from County Manager Tod Tentler. The county may provide up to $2,800 funding for the scholarship program in the current fiscal year if requested by the development authority, according to the county’s proclamation for the scholarship.
County Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe commended Lukken for his 16 years as mayor in LaGrange, and for forging better relationships between the county and cities. He said the scholarship in Lukken’s honor was due to the work Lukken did over the years in support of the program and helping with its inception.
In 2007, the county contracted with Georgia Tech for a study to identify areas it needed to improve.
“One of the issues raised in that study was the issue of workforce development, and this was pre the meltdown of 2008,” Wolfe said “.. And of course when 2008 hit, our unemployment skyrocketed to upward of 14 percent; we had a crisis on our hands.”
Wolfe said Lukken “got very involved in the establishment of the workforce development committee,” and served as its first chairman. Lukken and Kay Durand, former Troup County Center for Strategic Planning executive director, along with others got together to form the Troup Trained program.
“Out of that work, one of the extensions of that work, is a program called Troup Trained, which has to do with the chronically unemployed,” Wolfe said. “We were finding a lot of good people, who, for various reasons, had been unemployed for a year to 18 months. And in this economy, on your resume, if you’ve got an 18-month gap in your employment history, no matter how good you are, the odds of you getting a job are greatly diminished.”
Wolfe said the program helps participants gain work experience and skills that they can add to their resume and use to get jobs. The program is free for participants, who must apply to be part of the program.
“For all the things that he has done, which are many over 19 years, this is an example of him showing leadership to positively touch the lives of others,” Wolfe said of Lukken at the Dec. 17 Commission meeting. “So it was our collective decision that we would establish a scholarship in your name, and that there will be a Troup Trained Jeff Lukken Scholarship winner so you can rest assured that your work will continue and that in that class always there will be one person that this county supported because of the leadership that you provided.”
“Thank you very much, I will treasure this,” Lukken said. “Thank you.”