If indeed a new federal prison were built in Letcher County, nearly all of the 350 workers who would be hired there initially would need to bring some skills with them.
In order to help meet the demand for skilled workers, the Letcher County Board of Education and the Letcher County Area Technology Center have formed a partnership to create a law enforcement and criminal justice program.
“This is just one way to help our community and students,” said Letcher Schools Superintendent Anna Craft.
Craft is a member of the Letcher County Planning Commission, a volunteer organization whose members have been working closely with U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers and others to bring a federal prison here. She said the facility is supposed to provide at least 350 jobs when it first opens.
“It looks very promising that Letcher County is going to get a federal prison,” said Letcher County Board of Education Chairman Will Smith.
The county school board also established a criminal law teaching position for the law enforcement and criminal justice program at its December meeting Monday night. The position will fall under the umbrella of the vocational school.
The board also approved budgeting $28,000 to purchase materials and supplies needed to divide vacant space at the new Letcher County Area Technology Center to create classroom areas, a courtroom and a virtual shooting range needed for the new program. Drafting students have created a design for the space, and architects with Sherman- Carter-Barnhart, who designed the new tech center building, have agreed to look over the plans at no cost to the board.
The district was recently awarded $40,000 from the mineral holding company Kentucky River Properties LLC to help fund the new program. The school board authorized school officials to apply for grants to Steele- Reese Foundation, Kentucky Department of Education Perkins Reserve Fund Grant and other sources that will financially support the law enforcement and criminal justice program.
Wade Adams, who is currently a school resource officer, will teach criminal justice classes.
Students will begin taking classes in the law and justice program in the fall of 2013 and must complete an application process to be admitted into the program and abide by a dress code. Students will receive dual credit from Eastern Kentucky University.
“I think it will be a wonderful learning experience,” said Craft.