After the Madison County commissioners fired the director of the local JobSource office and moved to appoint a political friend to the position, the organization’s Region 5 board of directors intervened.
The board voted unanimously in August to terminate within 90 days Madison County’s contract to run the local JobSource operations.
In July, the county commissioners had fired JobSource Executive Director JoAnna Collette and moved to replace her with retired state Sen. Doug Eckerty, a close friend of current state Sen. Mike Gaskill, the husband of Madison County Board of Commissioners President Kelly Gaskill.
The whole ordeal smelled of politics, and there should be no place for that in an organization like JobSource.
Funded through federal grants, for more than four decades, JobSource, which partners with WorkOne, has provided job training and other employment services in Madison County. The nonprofit also administers Community Development Block Grants, a weatherization program and other initiatives.
After the Madison County contract runs out, operations of JobSource’s workforce development will be turned over to Greenfield-based Interlocal Assistance, which oversees federal grant funding for eight counties. JobSource employees will no longer be considered employees of Madison County but will work directly for the Interlocal Association.
A new supervisor will be appointed to replace Eckerty in overseeing workforce development efforts at JobSource. Eckerty could continue as a county employee to manage the weatherization program and Community Development Block Grant funding provided to JobSource.
Lance Ratliff, executive director of Interlocal Association, said, “The termination of JoAnna Collette was a factor. We were not given any advance notice of her termination and no reason was given for her termination.”
Kelly Gaskill expressed disappointment with the decision.
“I have been in contact with state and local officials to better understand the situation and will respond accordingly,” she told The Herald Bulletin.
The vital services JobSource provides to Madison County residents are too important to let politics interfere.
And the Region 5 board’s decision to terminate the contract with the county, hopefully, will free JobSource officials from political concerns and enable them to focus on workforce development.