DOUBLE SPRINGS, Ala. — Over the last two years, the Winston County Works project has directly impacted the lives of 245, with effects rippling out to their families and the community of Winston County as a whole. A Tuesday evening gathering at the Winston County Technical Center celebrated the program’s success and looked to future developments.
The program kicked off in 2016 with the help of a grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission and additional support by Wallace State Community College and the Winston County School system. It was created to provide area residents with short-term basic skills training to support industry-recognized certification and credentials, facilitating employment opportunities for participants in high-growth and high-demand occupations. It also encapsulated the Ready to Work program and continued offering Adult Education classes for those seeking their GED certificates.
Winston County Circuit Clerk J.D. Snoddy sang the praises of the Ready to Work program and shared the story of just one of its success stories. Snoddy explained how a young man was jailed on a $10,000 bond that neither he nor his family could pay. The judge overseeing his case agreed to an experiment that would allow the man to be released with the caveat that he enroll in GED program and volunteer at a local food ministry where he would be surrounded by “people who can be a good influence on him all day.”
“He not only got his GED, but he made a very high grade on his GED test,” Snoddy said. “He also continued to pack boxes of food down at the ministry.”
When his court date arrived, the judge and district attorney agreed to continue the man’s case for a year. “They said if everything’s good in a year, we’re going to dismiss his case,” Snoddy said. “Two weeks ago, Judge Carter dismissed his case.
“That’s why Wallace State has done such a wonderful job,” Snoddy said. “There have been people who have gotten opportunities because of this program.”
Sheriff Tommy Moore agreed. “Throughout my whole career I’ve seen many people come to jail. They sit in the back and learn how to play cards, but that was pretty much it. They’d get out and go back and do the same thing,” he said. Since starting Narcotics Anonymous and partnering up with local ministries and especially the Ready to Work program, Moore said he’s seen changes. “For the first time in my career when they say, ‘Sheriff, I don’t think I’m coming back this time,’ I can see it in their eyes and I can see it in their hearts that they’re telling me the truth, and I want to thank y’all.”
County Commissioner Bobby Everette, who along with fellow commissioner David Cummings, took CDL classes through the program, recounted the story of another student who turned his life around thanks to Winston County Works.
“This one particular guy was in a lot of trouble,” Everette said. “Today he has a real good job. He has his family back. He’s involved in church and he is a mentor in Arley, Alabama. And that, my friends, is just one story of what I got to see. I thank God for Winston County Works. It’s great and I hope we get to continue on.
Austin Monk, director of Workforce Development at Wallace State, shared what’s in store for the future of the program. “We’re just starting a great journey,” he said. “And I hope in the future we’re going to grow these programs and continue to put people in high-wage, high-demand jobs.”
Monk said plans are to continue the welding and CDL programs, and add programs that teach advanced manufacturing principles, mechanical and electrical skills, certified production technician training, and certified logistics training.
“We’re going to continue the Ready to Work program as much as we can to engage the community, as well as the GED program,” Monk said.
For more information about Winston County Works, contact Austin Monk at 256.352.7874 or Austin.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click HERE to see video from the event.