• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

EDA chair promotes expungement session

The Woodford Economic Development Authority (EDA) has helped lure hundreds of jobs here, and now members are trying to fill them with as many local residents as possible. At the EDA's monthly meeting Friday, July 28, Chair John Soper briefed the group on efforts to help those who may believe they have no chance at jobs at local industries. He touted an expungement information session set for Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) ballroom. Experts from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and other groups will help people learn how to remove certain convictions from their record. "This is a very important step for our community - to allow folks that have been shut out of the workforce or think they've been shut out to come in and us pay for their initial ... screen through Kentucky State Police as to their record and whether or not they qualify ... to get any felonies or misdemeanors off their record ..." Soper said. The program is part of an ambitious effort called "Bridging The Gap," which includes Woodford Adult Education, school district officials and other community leaders. At KCTCS that evening, Adult Education employees will do testing for general education diplomas (GEDs) and show people without high school diplomas how to get a GED. Soper said Yokohama and Pilkington (NSG) have agreed to pilot programs allowing people who commit to receiving their GEDs within a certain time frame to be hired. "And that's a huge move for these companies to waive this, and that shows you the depth of the problem we have in getting workforce here," Soper said. "That's something that I'm very proud that Adult Education is working on, and I'm very pleased that these companies are doing this. I am doing everything I can to drum up potential employees ..." Soper said. He also credited officials with the Woodford County Library and school district officials for their efforts. Later in the meeting, Soper said Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and Versailles City Council Member Mike Coleman (also an EDA member) had recently met with the state Labor Secretary to discuss a new state apprenticeship program. Soper said they'd learned it was possible for people under the age of 18 to fill some jobs not involving heavy machinery. "This could be huge for us," Soper said, citing summer jobs at Lakeshore Learning Materials as one possibility for minors seeking employment. The school system could also design programming to match the job a student is being trained for in the state apprenticeship program, he said. Midway University Matthew Courtney, Midway University's new executive director of admissions and partnerships, spoke about the school's new Business Advantage Program, which launched in April. "They created my position to be sort of a conduit out to the community, working with local businesses to take all the things that Midway is really good at doing and making them more accessible and more affordable ... to our business partners out in the community," Courtney said. "This is a fully customizable program ... to allow me and a corporate partner to sit down and negotiate a contract and an agreement that meets their educational needs." Discussion items will include tuition and deferred payment plans. "We're trying to make it easier to allow companies to stretch those limited tuition assistance dollars ..." Courtney said. Courtney said business leaders can identify skill sets their workers need to improve and receive deep discounts on sections of applicable classes. "... At the end, your team has worked through a full eight-week course and they'll receive three university credits that are transferrable to programs at Midway or other institutions," Courtney said. Courtney can be reached at (859) 846-5309 or mcourtney@midway.edu. Midway Station An executive session to discuss potential land sales was held with no action taken afterwards. The EDA then unanimously passed a motion allowing Soper to sign a deed transferring ownership of a lot at the corner of McKinney Avenue and Georgetown Road to developer Dennis Anderson. A gas station is planned there. The EDA also unanimously passed a motion allowing Soper to sign a deed of restrictions after review and approval of legal counsel for commercial land including that lot.

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