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News :: AmeriCorps growing again: FEMA partnership means expansion from 240-400 members
· 11:17pm March 22nd, 2012
While there is no official announcement from the federal government concerning the expansion of the AmeriCorps NCCC campus in Vinton, director Dan Milnes discussed the impending changes with the council Thursday evening.
Milnes told the council that FEMA leaders, while observing the success that NCCC teams have had in helping many areas recover from hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.
Milnes said FEMA has asked the NCCC to work to create a program very similar to the AmeriCorps program that came to Vinton in 2008. While the new unit would be very much like the current NCCC teams, its members will also have specialized training in specific disaster relief, Milnes said.
"FEMA sees these young adults out there working and they want 2,000 to 3,000 more of them," he adds.
The first FEMA-NCCC team leaders will arrive in July; members will begin training in August.
Milnes said the AmeriCorps campus has room for 260 or so people; the total enrollment when the FEMA program begins will jump to nearly 400. The campus will handle this challenge by staggering its members, so not all are staying at the campus at one time.
Another challenge will be finding parking for the 40 new vehicles (mostly 15-passenger vans) that the campus will have when the FEMA teams arrive.
The AmeriCorps campus expanded from 160 members its first year to 240 the past two years, said Milnes. Under the new arrangement, AmeriCorps will reduce its numbers to 160, while adding 240 in the FEMA program.
"We are growing again," said Milnes. "This is an exciting opportunity for us."
Mayor John Watson thanked Milnes for the update, and said that bringing AmeriCorps to Vinton was one of the most positive changes in the city in recent years. He invited Milnes and other NCCC leaders to contact city hall anytime.
"We think we have been good neighbors," said Milnes. "And we have a great partnership with Vinton."
Council member Bud Maynard noted the irony of Milnes saying that it was too soon to issue a press release, then making a detailed presentation of the new changes in a public meeting, as reporters took notes.
Milnes, however, said he wants the people of Vinton to know about the coming changes, and to talk about them.
Approximately half of the full-time NCCC staff members live in Vinton, Milnes said. The expansion means that there will be approximately 12 more full-time jobs. Vinton residents are encouraged to apply through the USA Jobs web site, the official site for applying for all federal government jobs.
Maynard also asked Milnes if the FEMA partnership means that the NCCC campus future is more secure.
Because the NCCC program is funded on a year-to-year basis, there is often a point in the budget process when someone tries to kill funding for the program.
But Milnes said that the federal government has made a long-term commitment to NCCC, and that the FEMA partnership will only make that commitment stronger.
"We are not going anywhere," he said.
Another reason that FEMA leaders are excited about the NCCC partnership, said Milnes, is that FEMA is looking to replace retiring workers with younger ones who have already been trained. The NCCC partnership is a big step toward achieving that goal.
AmeriCorps NCCC leaders learned about three months ago that FEMA was considering this new partnership. Ten days ago, Milnes said, NCCC leaders learned that the agency had decided to forge ahead with the new effort.
There are still many details about the partnership to be finalized, said Milnes. This will be a very busy time for local NCCC leaders, he adds.
While it is too soon for NCCC to announce the specific impact of the change on the Vinton campus, FEMA has announced the new partnership. See that press release HERE.
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