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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

STARS director, students accept CDBG grant check from county

The STARS program received a $100,000 ceremonial check from the Linn County Commission on Monday, Sept. 11. Participating in the ceremony was, front row from left, county economic development Director Jessica Hightower, STARS students Gracee Willard and Jeremy Sweat; back row, STARS Director Jay Allen and county Commissioners Jim Johnson, Danny McCullough, and Jason Hightower. (Submitted photo)

By Charlene Sims, Journal staff

MOUND CITY – Southeastern Technical Academy for Rural Students (STARS) Director Jay Allen met with the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, Sept. 11 to update them on the STARS program at Pleasanton and to officially announce the check received from Linn County for the program through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Allen reported that the renovations had been completed on the old auto dealership building and it now has classrooms for the students. He invited the commissioners to come see the building and the program.

Allen said he would be happy to answer any questions but would rather give them a tour of the technical center. He said that he would like the commissioners to see their simulator labs and Allied Health labs and the opportunities that were being offered to the students that the county has never had before.

Allen told the commissioners that the program has increased from the 43 students it had last year to 91 this year. He said that all three school districts in Linn County were well-represented in the program and Louisburg High School also had students attending the program.

Allen said that five of the students in the program have already graduated from high school and Jeremy Sweat was one of them. Allen said that Sweat, a graduate of Pleasanton High School and the condensed emergency medical technician (EMT) class at STARS, was one of the “poster children” for the STARS EMT program.

Allen and students, Gracee Willard, a junior at Jayhawk-Linn, and Sweat, came to the commission meeting with Allen to officially receive the CDBG check that was received by Linn County for the program.

Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower said that she was very excited about being a part of the program. She assisted with the grant and is on the board of STARS as Linn County’s representative.

Hightower said that the state of Kansas Commerce department had added a couple more elements to the CDBG grant program this year and one of them was Youth Job Training. The maximum amount that could be applied for was $100,000 and Linn County applied for that on behalf of the STARS program and received it from a field of seven applicants.

Allen said that Linn County was of two counties in southeast Kansas that were chosen; the other county was Labette County, which is running a program in the summer. He said that the criteria that the grant was judged on was how much the program was needed, how the program would use the money, and how much community involvement there was in the program.

Hightower said that the money was going to be used for two desktop simulators for the heavy equipment program and 25 computers and desks for students to do classwork and testing.

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