BELMONT COUNTY - Summer is winding down, and the Connections One-Stop Employment Office and Community Action Commission of Belmont County are closing the books on a successful work season with the Summer Youth Employment Program.
This year, a total of 64 local young people were employed at 25 different work sites throughout the county, thanks to federal funding allocated toward this year's program.
"It's really been a pleasure to work with the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services on this project," said Gary Obloy, executive director of the Community Action Commission of Belmont County. "The community as a whole really benefits from it."
Obloy said the Summer Youth Employment Program not only makes scores of temporary jobs available for eligible young people over the summer months, but it also helps local employers, nonprofit agencies, school districts and government agencies utilize the additional funding to help pay wages for temporary employees to get much-needed work done in June, July and August.
This year's program officially came to a close Friday, although many student workers finished their summer jobs just before the new school year began.
The federal funds for the summer youth program are allocated to county departments of job and family services through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The TANF guidelines mandate that participants in these programs must reside in a household with a total income that is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
In Belmont County, the BCDJFS Connections office in Martins Ferry administered the program and determined the eligibility of the youth who applied for summer jobs. The TANF Summer Youth Employment Program is made available to eligible youth between the ages of 14 and 24, but local officials noted that minor labor laws make it difficult for younger teens to perform many of the tasks required on the local work sites that are available through the program.
Most of the workers that participated this summer have been between the ages of 16 and 24, and they did everything from cutting grass and painting to performing custodial work at local schools, joining village work crews in local municipalities, helping with upkeep of local cemeteries or working in local libraries, at public swimming pools, with township crews or even at privately owned businesses, including J&L Auto Body in Bellaire and Calliope Consignment in Martins Ferry.
The workers are paid $7.70 per hour, minimum wage, and work 35 hours per week.