Gillibrand sees Job Corps as great success story

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand chats with carpentry students at the Iroquois Job Corps Center in Medina today.

MEDINA – U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand hailed the Iroquois Job Corps Center as a model for success, a program very deserving of the government’s support.

Gillibrand stopped by the center today and met some of the students and staff. The center has 225 students who stay in dorms. There are seven Job Corps in the state. This was the first residential program Gillibrand visited.

The students learn hands-on vocational training. She met with students in the carpentry program where they were building a small lighthouse today that will have solar panels on it.

“This is the kind of program we need to support,” she said after meeting students. “It’s good for the economy.”

Sen. Gillibrand tours the carpentry shop with Michael Wisor, a carpentry instructor.

Many of the students learn skills and can enter the workforce. Others pursue college or the military. Job Corps staff will stay in touch for students for two years following their graduation, providing guidance and support, Gillibrand said.

“This program is vital,” she said. “It is a great environment that is 24-7.”

The Iroquois Job Corps is on the wildlife refuge. It opened in 1966. The federal government created the Job Corps program 50 years ago.

Iroquois staff invited Gillibrand as part of the program’s 50th anniversary. She also plans to visit a center in Oneonta on Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has visited the Iroquois Center before. The site is down about 25 students from its capacity of 250. The Department of Labor froze enrollments last year due to a budget shortfall. Gillibrand, Schumer and Congressman Chris Collins have written letters to the DOL to allow the centers to again operate at capacity, said Melinda Maedl, business and community liaison for the Iroquois Job Corps.

“They’ve all been great supporters of the program,” Maedl said.

Gillibrand is pictured with Melissa Volpe, director of the Iroquois Job Corps.