Duluth's parks and youth benefit from $500,000 federal boost
Duluth's understaffed parks and some of the city's disadvantaged youth will benefit this summer from federal stimulus money. The city of Duluth's Workforce Development Center has been given just more than $500,000 from the Department of Labor to ...
Duluth's understaffed parks and some of the city's disadvantaged youth will benefit this summer from federal stimulus money.
The city of Duluth's Workforce Development Center has been given just more than $500,000 from the Department of Labor to help place up to 130 people ages 14 to 24 in various work programs through the next two months, with just less than half working for the city of Duluth.
Some will do many of the same duties that temporary workers did before they were laid off last year, said Tom Kasper, the city's lead parks maintenance worker.
For Kasper, the help will be welcome.
"They'll be helping to maintain the parks, from mowing to assisting with a variety of operations of city government," Kasper said.
Matt Gregorich, 18, will be one of those who will benefit. He has spent the past three years doing temporary summer work for the city, mostly helping to maintain parks. After city budget cuts, his summer job was anything but certain.
The city's program actually is an expansion of the Youth Employment Services program, which has dwindled in recent years because of funding cuts, said Don Hoag, director of the Workforce Development Center.
"The difference is that it's expanding our capacity to serve more folks," Hoag said. "It's to get young people into work now."
Hoag said the program is eligible to people who have low incomes and meet criteria such as being a high school dropout or who are deficient in basic literary skills, homeless, runaway or a foster child, or someone who requires assistance to complete an educational program.
"The goal as a result of this experience is to make them more employable in the future," Hoag said.
Hoag said most workers will go to other government entities, private businesses or nonprofits, with jobs paying about $7.25 an hour.
While employees like Gregorich will assist with parks maintenance, Parks Department Director Kathy Bergen said their help
doesn't mean any canceled or delayed programs will be restored.
"These youths are being given a training situation and need to be supervised," Bergen said. "They'll assist staff with the work they're currently doing."
Applications for the program still are open and available at the program's Web site, www.yesduluth.org , along with information for employers on hiring.