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The ‘BEST’ way in the county

County board hears report

PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board was thanked for their continued support in workforce development at Tuesday’s meeting.

Dianna Schuler, business services manager of Business Employment Skills Team, Inc. (BEST), spoke during the public comment period and gave a brief report on how many Bureau County residents have been served by BEST.

The non-profit organization carries a mission of fueling the prosperity and productivity of business by delivering a well-trained and adaptable workforce.

According to Schuler’s report, the number of residents served by BEST in the last year included 17 youth, 19 adults, 52 dislocated workers, an additional 19 dislocated workers throughout trade readjustment act resistance and 67 additional universal access customers.

“The individuals served during the past 12 months received assistance in schooling, possibly childcare and transportation to get to and from school,” she explained. “We also served other Bureau County residents who may have just come into the resource centers to use computers to write a resume, apply online for jobs or just look at the job board.”

Schuler also reported this summer, the program had received a $150,000 grant to help serve 75 youth throughout the course of the summer in their eight county region.

“We are excited that we received this money. It’s something we traditionally do during the summer, and we have enrolled four youth from Bureau County,” she said.

Schuler shared a success story about a young DePue man who had gotten hired through the program. She said the young man was very persistent about getting signed up, and after a few routine obstacles, was finally hired to work grounds and janitorial at DePue High School.

“He’s received the highest marks possible on his evaluation last week,” she said.

Schuler also gave a brief update on the job fair held in Bureau County last year as a part of NCI Works’ “Just Hire One” initiative. The idea of the job fair was to encourage companies to hire just one more person, if possible, to help reduce the unemployment rate.

BEST is a member of NCI Works, which now covers Bureau, Carroll, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lee, Ogle, Putnam and Whiteside counties. The board is responsible for planning and coordinating the communities’ resources into a workforce development system.

“We had 21 businesses participate in the job fair and over 100 job-seekers attend,” she explained. “We only had 10 individuals that we could document as having been hired from it, but that’s 10 individuals that otherwise may not have been able to find employment, and it also means 10 families that were affected by that success.”

The board on Tuesday approved a resolution recognizing Workforce Development Week, which begins August 25.

In other news, county board member Steve Sondgeroth reported the board’s Fees and Salaries Committee held a special meeting to discuss the potential hiring of a recruiter to begin the search for a county administrator. He said he had gotten a hold of the job description of the administrator and asked board members to look it over for next month, when they plan to revisit the matter.

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