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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Newton County applies to be Work Ready Community

  • Newton County could soon be considered an ACT Certified Work Ready Community.
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  • Newton County could soon be considered an ACT Certified Work Ready Community.
    Howard Birdsong, consultant, announced Tuesday at the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Committee meeting that the county's Work Ready application is due by the end of this month.
    "Once we get the certification, it will help in identifying a corridor of communities between Jasper and Newton County that will provide skilled jobs, a skilled workforce, identify the needs of local employers and new employers, and work with the education system to develop those skills," Birdsong said.
    According to their website, the ACT Certified Work Ready Community initiative was created with the intent of offering a national system that could identify work readiness by focusing on three skills among an area's workforce: applied math, reading for information, and locating information.
    Birdsong said that as of Tuesday nearly 400 Newton County residents have already been tested, as is required for the Work Ready Community application.
    "We've tested almost 400 people who are in the workforce, looking for jobs, people that are in school right now and some that are currently working," Birdsong said. "We are just a few people short of that, and we'll continue to work on it."
    Birdsong said the application will be submitted to the state of Missouri, and that the application narrative has already been completed.
    also requires that the county have 65 employer partnerships, though there were only 29 on record for Newton County as of Tuesday afternoon.
    However, Birdsong did invite several businesses represented at Tuesday's meeting to partake as well. He said joining in an employer partnership does not result in any commitment for the employer; it is merely an endorsement of the Work Ready initiative.
    "We all have an interest in matching skills that employers need with workers that possess those skills," Birdsong said. "That's the whole intent of becoming a certified work-ready community."
    In other business, Newton County Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman said the county has collected nearly $700,000 so far on the county's quarter-cent road and bridge sales tax.
    Ruestman said the county has a one-year roads plan, and the county's road districts are currently working on two and three-year plans for the needed roadwork.
    "They're really serious about it and I think you'll begin to see little pockets of improvement throughout the county," Ruestman said. "It looks to me like they've got a really great plan going."
    She said Oak Road, near Neosho, is at the top of the priority list, as it has been for nearly one year.
    "As soon as the weather clears up they'll be out there finishing up Oak Road," Ruestman said. "I think that's going to be a good project when we get that finished."
    He said the application also requires that the county have 65 employer partnerships, though there were only 29 on record for Newton County as of Tuesday afternoon.
    Page 2 of 2 - However, Birdsong did invite several businesses represented at Tuesday’s meeting to partake as well. He said joining in an employer partnership does not result in any commitment for the employer; it is merely an endorsement of the Work Ready initiative.
    “We all have an interest in matching skills that employers need with workers that possess those skills,” Birdsong said. “That’s the whole intent of becoming a certified work-ready community.”
    In other business, Newton County Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman said the county has collected nearly $700,000 so far on the county’s quarter-cent road and bridge sales tax.
    Ruestman said the county has a one-year roads plan, and the county’s road districts are currently working on two and three-year plans for the needed roadwork.
    “They’re really serious about it and I think you’ll begin to see little pockets of improvement throughout the county,” Ruestman said. “It looks to me like they’ve got a really great plan going.”
    She said Oak Road, near Neosho, is at the top of the priority list, as it has been for nearly one year.
    “As soon as the weather clears up they’ll be out there finishing up Oak Road,” Ruestman said. “I think that’s going to be a good project when we get that finished.”

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