Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Columbia County News

Difficult economic times - Florida Crown stretched thin and working overtime

Florida Crown Workforce Board and the Consortium viewed a presentation by Executive Director, "JC" John Chastain.

The November 17, 2009 Florida Crown Workforce Board meeting looked back at the previous year's facts and figures; looked forward into the year ahead; appointed new board members from the four counties it serves and saw the Consortium approve the revised budget without the distraction of Columbia County, who, after months of distraction, voluntarily withdrew its membership earlier this year.

Florida Crown serves the four county region of Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist and Union counties. Part of the mission of Florida Crown is to act as the state unemployment office for the four county region.

Executive Director, John Chastain's power point presentation was replete with statistics that showed the plight of Florida and the rest of the nation.

The numbers are "staggering and overwhelming.".

The most telling number of the evening was the comparison of the number of customers served for the past three years. Florida Crown's customers could be your neighbors or your family. They are the folks looking for jobs; folks on hard times looking to transition to welfare, folks looking for training; folks looking to apply for food stamps, wounded and homeless veterans; one day they could be you.

The fiscal year for Florida Crown begins on July 1st. The facts and figures presented at the meeting give a real indication of the regions plight. The following three years of numbers show the number of customers Florida Crown saw during the past three years, year by year.

In 2006-2007 FL Crown saw 13,795 customers. In 2007-2008 Fl Crown saw 23,589 customers. In 2008-2009 Fl Crown saw 42,285 customers.

Another telling number in the four county region are the number of folks transitioning to welfare. Executive Director John Chastain called these numbers "staggering and overwhelming."

In 2006-2007 the number was 1,627. In 2007-2008 the number was 8,296. In 2008-2009 the number was 12,828.

Mr. Chastain explained that Florida presently has 11% unemployed, which is the highest rate since 1975 and that job growth is the lowest since 1991. He said, "Trends reflect that both the government and private sector are taking steps to eliminate all vacant positions and cut work hours."

Mr. Chastain also reported some good news. For the 2008-2009 year, Florida Crown, based on performance, was in first place among the twenty four work regional workforce boards in Florida. For the current year (July through September) Fl Crown is in second place and has five more positive ratings than the current leader.

In 2009 Florida Crown received the following awards:

 • 2009 Columbia County School District’s Adult Education Program Business Partner of the Year for Literacy     
• The Governor’s Able Trust -2009 Ability Award – High School/High Tech Program of the Year     
• Veterans Performance Incentive Award - $29,438 due to the effort of Thomas Allen and Alonzo Galloway     
• 2009 Disability Mentoring Proclamations – Florida Crown – Jeannie Carr, Elizabeth Wetherington and Denise Paschal

There was also good news on the budget front. With the addition of the WINGS grant, stimulus funding, veterans increases and others, Fl Crown added $1,161,059 to their $2,250,304 budget. Fl Crown's revised budget is now $3,411,363.

The management and staff of Fl Crown worked hard to add the following funds since the last Director's report:

• Veteran’s Stand Down - $7,000 (restricted)
• WFI Workforce Innovation New Generation Solutions (WINGS) grant awarded - $402,050 (restricted)
• Local Veteran’s Employment Representative increase - $33,633 (restricted)
• Re-Employment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) - $60,480 (restricted)
• Veteran’s Performance Incentive Award - $29,438 (unrestricted)
• Able Trust Continuation Grant for High School/High Tech - $80,000 (unrestricted)
• Able Trust Veteran’s Grant (ENABLE) - $40,000 (unrestricted)
• Able Trust RAMP Grant - $30,000 a year for 3 years (unrestricted) – Mentors needed for Columbia and Gilchrist

The following people were nominated and elected to the Workforce Board:

• Philip Arnold (Dixie County)
• Tommy Cooper (Dixie County)
• Jeff Hudson (Columbia County)
• Ron Jones (Columbia County)
• Phil McIntyre (Union Rep.)
• Jason Medlin (Columbia County)
• Randy Nehring (Gilchrist County)
• Perley Richardson (Gilchrist County)
• Anthony Rodriquez (Union Rep.)
• C. Todd Sampson (Columbia County)
• Mark Touchstone (Union County)

These folks, along with management and staff of Florida Crown can be contacted here.

There are some dark clouds on the horizon.

Executive Director Chastain told the Observer:  "Funding for next year is uncertain. This is putting a lot of pressure on our staff, which is already stretched thin."

Mr. Chastain also mentioned the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) money:  "This money is used to help the families that are suffering the most. These people have no or low skills, no training and also need assistance to keep their families together. Right now we have three case managers at our headquarters in Lake City and one in each of our satellite offices. If the 18% cut that some are talking about goes into effect, this will jeopardize the program."

Mr. Chastain continued: "The TANF numbers are staggering. In 2006-2007 we had 1,627 requests for assistance. In 2007-2008 we had 8,296 requests for assistance. Last year [2008-2009] we had 12,828 requests. This literally takes our breath away."

Mr. Chastain told the Observer: "These are truly the most difficult times we have seen. Our staff – the Consortium -- the Workforce Board – everyone -- is working as hard as they can." 


Florida Crown Affair:

  County gives up battle to destroy Fl Crown - Good old boys play possum to the end (posted October 11, 2010 05:00 am)
 • Florida Crown remains in the lurch
(posted April 21, 2010)
 • Florida Crown on top again (posted April 14, 2010) 
Florida Crown - Columbia County -Time for a little mercy (posted March 19, 2010)
 Florida Crown Invitation Com Langford steps up – it takes a woman (posted March 15, 2010)
Florida Crown Soars $402,000 Wings Grant Awarded (posted Oct 28, 2009)
 Difficult economic times - Florida Crown stretched thin and working overtime (posted Nov 26, 2009)
  Florida Crown Affair • Search Continues For Columbia County Issues (Part II) (posted June 18, 2009)
  Florida Crown Affair • Search Continues For Columbia County Issues (Part I) (posted June 17, 2009)
Florida Crown Affair moves to Gilchrist County (posted June 2, 2009)
  County Commission ignores rule of law
(posted May 26, 2009)
 • The Observer responds to County Manager Dale Williams (May 21, 2009)
 Florida Crown Receives Florida Literacy Award (posted May 20, 2009)
 Florida Crown's harassment continues
(Part II)
(posted April 16, 2009)
 Columbia County Commission leaves Florida Crown in the lurch – again
(Part 1)
(posted April 15, 2009)
  Florida Crown Gets Clean Bill of Health (posted March 23, 2009)
  George Skinner, former Columbia County Commissioner, weighs in on the Florida Crown controversy. (posted March 16, 2009)
  Florida Crown Workforce Board -- To good to leave (Posted March 12, 2009)