Summer Youth

A MAJOR dose of good economic news for Belmont County youths was delivered at Wednesday’s meeting of the Belmont County commissioners.

It came in the form of the return of the Summer Youth Employment Program. For the last two summers, federal funding was not available to make the program operational. That has changed this year as funding through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families has been made available.

Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services Director Dwayne Pielech says his agency has recently received word that the Ohio DJFS has been allocated $26 million to fuel the program statewide.

It is still not known how much of that money will trickle down to Belmont County. That will be determined in coming weeks. What is certain is that a very rewarding program will again become functional and make a difference in the lives of many local youths.

The summer program is open to boys and girls, ages 16-24, who meet certain income guidelines.

Those who are successfully chosen to participate reap many benefits in addition to a paycheck. Through the course of their summer employment, they will sharpen their work skills, develop a greater sense of responsibility and help deliver much-needed work to communities which would otherwise be unable to perform such tasks due to cuts in local government funding.

Interested students need to act swiftly as appointments will take place in May. Pertinent program information is available at all high schools as well as the Connections office in Martins Ferry.

The Summer Youth Employment program has aided countless Belmont County youths in years past. It is refreshing to see that it has returned, and we hope it becomes an annual fixture in Belmont County.