LG&E donates for inmate training program

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Jan. 5—Laurel County Jailer Jamie Mosley is a proponent of educating and training inmates for vocations once they are released.

His dream, combined with the needs of local businesses, took a huge step forward on Tuesday with a monetary donation for a training program for forklift drivers.

The $1,000 donation by Louisville Gas and Electric, part of the Kentucky Utilities cooperative, was overseen and coordinated by London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority CEO Paula Thompson, who met with Mosley and Travis McQueen with the Laurel Campus of Somerset Community College, regarding training programs for inmates.

Roxann Fry with LG&E visited London to present the check that will allow 10 inmates to undergo an 8-hour training program that gives them opportunity to take a written test and driving test for certification and license as a forklift operator once they are released from jail.

Fry said KU and LG&E were helping communities across the state to bring in new businesses as well as assist existing businesses through scholarship programs as part of a new initiative. Thompson said she had polled local businesses to find their greatest need for employees, with forklift drivers being the number one need. She then met with Mosley and McQueen to discuss the possibilities of establishing a training program for inmates to meet that need.

"These trainees will be non-violent offenders who can earn their certification and be ready for a new vocation once they are released," Thompson said. "This will give them college credit and certification as a forklift driver. We have a lot of logistics, truck drivers and industries that need certified, trained workers, so this was a perfect fit."

Thompson said the state-of-the-art jail had space for classrooms where inmates would receive four hours of lecture and four hours of hands on training. That program will allow inmates to have more opportunities for employment and will hopefully deter any future incarcerations.

"We want success stories," Thompson said. "The jail is making classrooms available for the classes and 100% of this money is going toward training the workers."

The classes will begin this month with the training program in conjunction with Somerset Community College, who will provide an instructor for the classes.

Dr. Carey Castle, President of SCC, said, "Our job is to help you. This is a very big deal for us. The technical part of job training is very needed here."

McQueen added that the college is focused on establishing programs to meet the needs of the community and is a welcomed addition to the current programs offered at the college.

"This program meets OSHA qualifications and offers certificates and license," he said. "The participants will complete the classes and then take the written test and driving test."

That program could be completed in one week, depending upon the time frame assigned by jail staff.

Thompson also told Fry about the Fariston and Greer industrial parks, who utilize Kentucky Utilities for their infrastructure. She explained that the new pump station in Greer Industrial Park also supplies the Fariston Industrial Park, adjoining the Laurel County Correctional Center facility, as well as private residences in the area. With three more large buildings soon to be constructed in the Greer Park, the need for infrastructure and qualified employees to perform jobs for new businesses, the needs of the community continue to grow. That inspired Thompson to work with Mosley and learn what local businesses need to continue to thrive as well as the need for highly trained technical personnel to fill the job market.

"This is a collaboration between economic development, the jail and Somerset Community College," she added. "We want to continue to meet the needs of the community with trained employees."