Earlier this week, the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EDCW) announced an Administrative Order reducing the number of administrative regions from 10 to five and the number of local offices from 33 to 12.
As a result, full-time staff will be provided in area centers or “hubs” located in the following 12 communities: Bowling Green, Covington, Elizabethtown, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville, Morehead, Owensboro, Paducah, Prestonsburg and Somerset. There are an additional eight branch locations not affected by the order including: Fort Knox, Mount Sterling, Whitesburg, McKee, Manchester, Jackson, Monticello and Albany.
Senator Robin Webb, D-Grayson, wasn't contacted by the Cabinet and only became aware of the re-organization and its impact on her district just prior to the announcement.
“I was particularly surprised by the decision to close the Ashland Career Center, which is not only the ‘population hub’ of my district, but also where constituents from Greenup and Carter counties go for assistance. The closing of the Ashland office means that the majority of my constituents will now have to travel a greater distance to get help and that is not that simple for someone who just lost their job.”
The Cabinet stated that the re-organization will allow them flexibility in providing information and assistance through multiple technology platforms and mobile staff who will travel throughout the area providing assistance in a variety of settings. With the closing of the Ashland office, Senator Webb said she is particularly interested in hearing more specifics about these services and the level of assistance her constituents will be receiving in the future.
During the transition period, Senator Webb will be working with the local workforce boards, Office for the Blind, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and other existing entities to provide other options and determine if, or in what degree, affected centers will operate in the future.
Here is the content of a letter written to Gov. Matt Bevin:
Dear Governor Bevin: Please consider this request that the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet determination for employee removal and reassignment regarding the Ashland Career Center be reconsidered.
Ashland is a population, employment, health care and education center of northeast Kentucky. The Ashland Career Center has served as a service “hub”, by providing services not only to the 18th Senate district, of Boyd, Carter and Greenup, but has served the region.
The closing of the Ashland Career Center, and relocation of their employees, will have an adverse impact on the citizens in my district and others throughout the region. Without this local office, the majority of my constituents, and many others, will be required to travel a significant distance to receive assistance with Unemployment Insurance Benefits and other related programs. This is not a task that is easily accomplished by someone with a family, who has just lost their job, and transportation is always a high-ranking barrier to many issues affecting my people.
Further, there was no communication or disclosure with the legislative branch of government to assist in addressing budget issues or how best to deliver services in a more efficient manner.
Once again, I ask that the closing of the Ashland office be reconsidered and allow it to continue servicing the area as a “hub” or, at minimum, a branch location.
I look forward to discussing this with you, or your staff at your convenience. Please advise.
Sincerely, I remain,
Robin L. Webb
Cc: Hal Heiner and Andy Hightower
Senator Webb represents the 18th Senatorial District consisting of Boyd, Carter, and Greenup counties.