The telephones were ringing non-stop in the Pueblo County Housing
and Human Services office, a little more than a year ago, after
county officials declared they had acquired $452,000 in federal
stimulus money to assist jobless people go through quick vocational
training at Pueblo Community College.
According to Ted Ortiviz, director of the county housing office,
more than 500 people raced to give their applications.
That program over the past year showed the government's good
intentions in hitting the glitches of reality during tough economy ?
employers who dislike the paperwork included in hiring the graduates,
young people who still must go through further remedial education
before they could sign up for the vocational classes and some people
who just chose to become full-time PCC students instead.
According to Ortiviz, around 240 people were able to get approval
for the program. Of the 240 people who got the approval,
approximately, only 28 people or so actually finished their training,
found jobs, and had their employers join in the salary reimbursement
"I think time was our biggest enemy," Ortiviz said
Tuesday. "It was a rushed program to get people trained and
working, and we only had a year to get it all accomplished."
The reason on the job-training program can now be concluded;
Ortiviz has received permission from Pueblo County commissioners to
put what remains of the job-training grant ($124,000), into a
home-lunch program for low-income students in both Pueblo City
Schools and District 70.
For the weekends, the program supplies low-income students with
take-home meals. There are about 15,174 students in both districts
who will benefit from the redirection of the funds, Ortiviz said.
It took fast work shifting administrative gears from utilizing the
funds for job-training classes to school lunches. Although, Ortiviz mentioned that the county stood to lose the $124,000 in stimulus money if
it were not committed by Sept. 30.
In early 2009, both city and local school districts of Pueblo
County were awarded about $23 million in federal stimulus money. It
was part of the $787 billion stimulus legislation that President
Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress signed in hopes of keeping
the economy from a depression.
The $452,000 fund for the fast-track vocational program caught
quick public interest since it was devoted to give ample job training
in a single semester so people could apply for work in a few number
of fields, with the likes of emergency medical technician, pharmacy
technician, and simple welding skills.
Ortiviz said, "A major problem was that a number of these
students had been out of school for some time and needed to improve
their basic math and reading skills to take part in the vocational
Some of the students took most of the year to get prepared for the
One incentive of the program was to provide employers a minimal
assistance on wages if they hired graduates of the program.
The only hindrance, according to Ortiviz, is the needed paperwork
required by the state Department of Local Affairs seems to be
"Some employers told us it wasn't worth the administrative
time to hire someone and then to apply for reimbursement," he
Ortiviz relates, as a one-time grant, the job program had a few
success. A couple of dozen people were actually hired into new jobs
as was designed, while some partakers got work on their own outside
the program guidelines. Others, chose to stay enrolled at PCC, hoping
to get a more thorough training or education.
Unfortunately, a program aimed to assist more than 200 jobless
people find work wasn't able to achieve that goal in the end.