Getting ready to work

LaGRANGE – The Troup County Board of Commissioners discussed a grant from the department of corrections that would make it possible to provide workforce training to inmates – and increase those inmates’ chances to reenter the work force – during its regular work session on Friday.

The grant would provide funding for a program that would make it possible for inmates to get GEDs and pursue certification as a trained barber or welder with the help of instructors from West Georgia Technical College.

“They’ll actually get a certification from West Georgia Tech, and this is a grant from the Department of Corrections, so there is no match (funding needed),” said Dexter Wells. “… If they cut the money off, we’ll discontinue the program.”

Many of the inmates in the program use similar skill sets in already existing programs with the prison, but officials hope that by receiving official classes and certification, they will be better able to reintegrate into the workforce after their release.

“They already cut hair in the prisons, but this will actually make them certified barbers when they get out and help them get a job,” said Wells. “… Troup County is more active than any other prison in Georgia in acquiring this, so they’ve done a good job, and I hope it works out.”

The classes offered would depend on what West Georgia Tech and the prison could work out logistically as far as what courses and professors could come to the prisons for training since inmates would not be going outside for the training. The program may even look into other training areas in the future if it can secure the space, materials and teachers to do so.

“We’ve had several comments (during) the last couple weeks about a lack of people in the construction business – framers and things of that nature – and I’m not sure if we have any input, but something of that nature might not be bad,” said Commission Chairman Patrick Crews during the work session.

If approved, the program would come at no cost to the county, and it would be totally funded by the department of corrections grant, making it budget neutral and community positive.

“These (grants) do not require any kind of a match (financially),” said Finance Officer Buddy Cashwell. “They are through the department of corrections, and so we would be looking to raise our revenue and our expenditures by $100,000.”

If the grant is not renewed in the future, the program would likely be discontinued.

The Troup County Board of Commission plans to vote on whether to approve the grant for the program as well as amendments to the Tax Allocation District that have already been approved by the city of LaGrange at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.

 

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.