MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (6/10/13) – The name Gary Jones is known by just about every businessperson in Muhlenberg County, and with good reason. For 12 years, Jones has worked long, hard hours as Business and Community Liaison (BCL) with the Muhlenberg Career Development Center (MCDC) at the Muhlenberg Job Corps location.
This year, Jones also added new duties to his busy schedule, serving as the current President of the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce.
Jones will leave his current position with the Development Center on June 13th, 2013, and begin enjoying a well-deserved retirement.
Earlier this week, Surfky.com News Group spent some time with Jones, looking back at just a few of the many achievements of both he and the career development center. Jones also shared some important history of this operation that serves students ages 16 to 24 years of age that are economically disadvantaged.
What began as simply "Job Corps" was created in 1964, during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.
Since its’ birth, this operation has served over 2 million students, with 125 centers now located in all 50 states. Kentucky and California have the distinction of having the most Job Corps centers, seven in each state. More than 100 vocational trade opportunities are offered at the various centers.
Jones says his fondest memories of the 12 years he spent in his position include "helping develop the high school diploma program at the Job Corps campus in 2002 by partnering with the Muhlenberg County Board of Education. This project was developed with great assistance from Jim Price, at a time when Price was a Board of Education employee, and who now serves as the principal of the high school program at the Job Corps campus."
Jones also noted that it was a real thrill to work at "creating a great working relationship with the Muhlenberg community, including businesses, employers, churches and civic organizations."
Helping in the spiritual growth of student at the center has also been a big part of Jones' focus, he says.
"HR Ministries connection with the location campus has made a huge impact. They provide weekly meals, recreation, support during Winter and Summer breaks, church services and mentoring to our students. Their efforts have been greatly appreciated by everyone here at the center." Jones says.
The numerous community projects performed over the years by MCDC students have been a source of great satisfaction to Jones, while providing much needed services to the area. Just a few of those efforts, Jones says, include "currently digging an eight acre handicapped accessible lake for the Henderson County Fiscal Court, along with parking cars for the Muhlenberg County Fair, the Freedom Fest, and area high school track meets, Our students also poured sidewalks for the Muhlenberg County Courthouse and area community centers, and even assist in keeping area blood supplies at a safe level by donating over 200 pints each year to area blood drives." Jones said.
"My 12 years in Job Corps work have been fulfilling. I have met a lot of wonderful people along the journey. I work with some of the best people in the world at MCDC. Job Corps has been the most rewarding job I have ever had and sometimes the most frustrating, but it has been worth it." Jones says, adding that "to go home each day and feel like you have contributed to the lives of these young adults is most rewarding when you receive a call or an email from a former student and they say 'Thanks Mr. Jones, for all you did for me while I was at Job Corps.' It is truly a great feeling. Then they will continue by telling me about the job they have landed and how much money they are making. It just doesn't get any better than that. That makes it all worthwhile," Jones said.
Jones replacement Karen Robinson, who has spent 15 years at the center as Administrative Assistant to the Center Director, will take over Jones' position on June 13th. Robinson, a 1992 graduate of Muhlenberg South, says her main goals will be to carry on Jones' success in this vital position, and "making even more businesses in the area aware of the enormous qualifications our students offer. We have so many certifications offered now with the various trades. Our students really can do an enormous amount to improve our community. Another goal, of course, is to continue the center's relationship with the community and keeping our relationship with chamber members strong," Robinson said.
Robinson admits that with Gary Jones' 12 year track record of success, she has some big shoes to fill.
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