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From left, fiscal agent of the Upper Cumberland Work Force Bobby Scott, County Executive Jimmy Haley, executive director of the Upper Cumberland Work Force Becky Hull, and president of TCAT McMinnville Warren Laux, attend the Warren County Criminal Justice Task Force meeting last Friday.

Warren County has received new re-entry grant opportunities providing current or former inmates with the tools necessary to obtain employment and gain hope after stepping out of incarceration.

The Warren County Criminal Justice Task Force met to discuss new plans for a $46,000 rural initiative grant coming from Upper Cumberland Workforce Development which will provide jail inmates or those formerly incarcerated and part of the adult recovery program with tuition money and materials to receive virtual welding training through McMinnville’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

The county was also awarded a $40,000 ThreeStar grant to purchase Snap-on tools and introduce a certification plan. 

“The tools are in and TCAT instructors are ready to roll,” said Warren County Executive Jimmy Haley. “This program will be able to help build a workforce and change lives by giving inmates hope, as well as additional training and opportunities, to help break the cycle of returning to the judicial system.”

Upper Cumberland Workforce Development strives to help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services needed to succeed in the labor market. The rural initiative grant is to develop and provide support for rural and distressed counties.

“We’ve heard so many good things at both the state and local levels of what is being done here, and we wanted to come be a part of the progress and help in any way we can,” said Becky Hull, executive director of the Upper Cumberland Work Force Board.

Tuition is $2,000 per student to participate in the virtual welding program. With $46,000, approximately 23 students can take classes. Assessments will be made by local government and jail staff on those who qualify and are most likely to have the highest rate of success.  

“I firmly believe in this program. When I was in charge of a school in inner-city St. Petersburg, Florida, we had programs like this at schools and in the jail,” said president of McMinnville TCAT, Dr. Warren Laux. “This is very exciting.”

Haley states the tools are paid for and the instructional materials have already been delivered. TCAT loaned a mobile training trailer for the educational program with the grant providing laptops, instructional supplies and other learning necessities.

“Repairing families, giving hope and improving the community is all part of the same plan,” said Haley. “We couldn’t have done this without everyone working together.”