Herald report


The Oconaluftee Civilian Conservation Corp will remain open along with eight other facilities nationwide previously targeted for “deactivation.”

CCC job centers provide low-income, at-risk students between 16 to 24 years old with vocational skills, such as forestry and carpentry. Students will be allowed to complete their training. Oconaluftee CCC is inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee.

The U.S. government announced plans last month to close nine of the job centers, and transfer 16 other centers from the U.S. Forest Service to the Labor Department. Among those 16 were the Lyndon B. Johnson CCC in Franklin and Schenck CCC in Pisgah Forest. Job Corps started in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

The U.S. Labor Department, according to a news release in May, “reviewed the CCC’s 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.”

Closing nine centers would have cut more than 1,000 jobs nationwide, which would have made it the largest purging of civil-service jobs in nearly a decade.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle strongly opposed efforts to deactivate the centers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell serves as a Republican senator in Kentucky, where two centers were listed for shutdown.

Among the Oconaluftee CCC’s partnerships are work with the Mother Town Healing Project; Cherokee Central Schools; Swain County Schools; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; EBCI Cooperative Extension; and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Job Corps students in the Smokies have helped with firefighting, facility construction and the removal of invasive species and forest pests.