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      Senator not pleased with Department of Labor's handling of Job Corps program

      The Job Corps program has been in the national news lately due to an enrollment freeze coming from the United States Department of Labor.

      In order to cut funding, Job Corps facilities across the country have not been able to retain new students since the freeze became effective January 28 of this year.

      US Senator Chuck Grassley was at the Ottumwa Job Corps center Wednesday to take a tour of the facility, as well as to hold a town hall with staff and students. KTVO was not allowed to bring cameras of any kind into that question and answer session, but that decision came from the Department of Labor, not from Senator Grassley's office or the Ottumwa Job Corps.

      To the senator, it was just one more mistake in the long line of poor decisions coming from the DOL.

      "If our communication with the Department of Labor doesn't get some changes made, then the only opportunity is when appropriation bills come up during July and September, when we appropriate for the next fiscal year. There will probably be opportunity to deal with it," Senator Grassley said on the next steps towards saving the Job Corps program. "Now, I'm not on the appropriation committee, I don't know how tough of a decision that will be to make because under events like the sequester, things are going to be tougher than normal. But here again, you've got to look at it as, if you want to get unemployment down, and job centers are one way of training people to get them employed, and a lot of these people are in the health care field, there's a tremendous need in the health care industry, it isn't the wisest thing to do in a time of recession."

      Senator Grassley said he's not been at all satisfied with the answers he's gotten from the Department of Labor on the issue thus far, and he believes freezing enrollment for Job Corps students is not making use of the investments in the facility.

      Ideally, the senator said he wants every Job Corps center to be back at full capacity in order to train the maximum amount of students.