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Nye County awarded environmental workforce development grant

In a post-COVID-19 world in which millions of jobs have been lost, unemployment has become a point of major concern, with communities across the United States struggling to adjust to the drastic changes that have taken place over the last year. Many of the jobs that have been lost will not return, leaving the people who once held them with no choice but to turn their sights to another career path. While this, too, may prove difficult, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is aiming to make the effort of a career shift a just bit easier, awarding millions in Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant funding to communities all around the country.

Nye County is one of the lucky recipients of a U.S. EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant, which is part of the EPA’s Brownfields revitalization efforts, with $200,000 in funding to be awarded in support of local job training opportunities.

“Nye County will utilize this grant to train approximately 68 low-income, under- or unemployed adults in environmental technician skills over the next two years,” a press release from the U.S. EPA reads. “The EWDJT program offers residents of communities historically affected by pollution and economic disinvestment an opportunity to gain the skills and certifications needed to secure environmental work in their communities. This allows local residents to compete for and secure good jobs.”

As detailed by Nye County Assistant County Manager Lorina Dellinger, the job training will take place in three cycles, with the first cycle beginning July 12 and running until Aug. 20, the second cycle set for Sept. 20 to Oct. 29 and the final cycle scheduled for Jan. 10, 2022 through Feb. 18, 2022.

There will be a variety of courses available through the grant funded training, including a 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response course, better known as HAZWOPER and two environmental health and safety training courses, a 32-hour course focused on asbestos abatement and a 16-hour course focused on lead-based paint abatement. There will also be 10-hour OSHA trainings, one specific to general industry outreach and another on construction industry outreach, an 8-hour CPR/First Aid/AED and blood-borne pathogens course and a 24-hour environmental technician course.

“Nye County is ecstatic to be awarded the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant to prepare many of our residents adversely impacted by the pandemic for employment in environmental fields, as well as a broader array of associated employer needs,” Dellinger stated. “Job training opportunities are needed in rural Nye County, as our workforce struggles with job losses that may be permanent, helping to build stronger communities.”

Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Administrator Greg Lovato was obviously excited about the grant award and its associated opportunities as well. “EPA’s workforce development grant program demonstrates that creating a healthy, sustainable economy can go hand-in-hand with protecting the environment,” Lovato stated. “In Nevada, we are excited to see this year’s grants invested in programs that connect job seekers from Nye County and the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe to environmental job training and education that will prepare them for a 21st century, post-COVID-19 economy. We thank EPA for providing those grants to help expand employment opportunities in the environmental sector center on protecting natural resources, revitalizing local neighborhoods, fostering healthier communities and advancing a resilient, environmentally-friendly economy for Nevada.”

Dellinger said Nye County has not yet received the actual award but once it comes in, it will be sent to the Nye County District Attorney’s Office for review before being placed on a Nye County Commission agenda for official acceptance.

“The county will then put out a request for qualifications for a Workforce Development and Job Training Coordinator,” Dellinger detailed. “The primary function of the workforce development and job training coordinator will be to oversee and manage outreach, curriculum development, recruitment and screenings, instruction and training, job placement and tracking and program evaluation.”

According to the EPA’s press release, Nye County will work with county residents as well as Duckwater Shoshone Tribal members to provide training to help residents enter a variety of environmental fields, including hazardous materials handling and assessment, cleanup and remediation of contamination. The project area covers the towns of Amargosa, Beatty, Pahrump and Tonopah, along with the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation.

For more information on the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program visit www.epa.gov

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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