Golconda Job Corps closes due to poor performance and "unsafe co - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Golconda Job Corps closes due to poor performance and "unsafe conditions"

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GOLCONDA --  Saturday, the United States Department of Labor will temporarily close down the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Golconda.

In a story News 3 has been covering since the beginning, we now know the exact reasons behind the closure that surprised and concerned many people.

A letter from Job Corps national director, Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, to U.S. Forest Service head Thomas Tidwell, includes reports of hygiene and sanitary issues in the center's culinary arts program going back years, and accuses staff at the site of repeatedly trying to conceal violent incidents from the national office.

It outlines several events that went unreported or misreported,  including an incident in October 2016 where nearly four dozen students went missing and were later discovered to have been drinking on the baseball field a short way away from the dorms.

The event should have led to the dismissal of those involved, but the staff inappropriately cited them for lesser offenses, and lied about where the students had been.

And earlier this year a student with a history of violent events assaulted three staff members, sending one to the hospital and leading to four felony charges.

According to the letter, if Golconda staff had followed proper procedures the assault wouldn't have happened because the student should have been kicked out of the program for the prior incidents.

It adds that Golconda has consistently been one of Job Corps' poorest performing centers in the nation, and that in January this year, nearly 60 percent of the students separated from the program did so due to violent offenses, compared to less than 15 percent nationally. In the same month just 3.4 percent of Golconda students that month that left successfully completed the program compared to nearly 50 percent nationally

Illinois Senators Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, along with Representative John Shimkus penned a letter to the Department of Labor pushing for the site to be reopened in a timely manner.

They say they understand the safety concerns and that they hope a plan to reopen the center in a safe manner for both students and staff is being formed, because the closure of the center will cause economic repercussions felt throughout the region.

The Golconda Job Corps site employed more than 60 people and housed 33 students.

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