MONTANA—Anaconda Job Corps students’ reputation for pitching in where needed was again on display when a “snowmaggedon” forced Anaconda-Deerlodge County, and the state of Montana, to declare a state of emergency Feb. 27. Anaconda-Deerlodge County experienced a snow so unprecedented that its school district canceled classes for the first time since the county was established in 1888.
County officials asked Anaconda Job Corps students to dig out 240 fire hydrants. “If there is a fire emergency, firefighters cannot get to the hydrants because they are all buried under roughly seven feet of snow,” stated Anaconda-Deerlodge County Chief Executive Bill Everett.
Without hesitation, amid a massive snowfall and frigid temperatures, 64 students and 12 instructors contributed 433 hours over the course of two days to protect the life, health and safety of their fellow residents.
The students represented trades across the center, including heavy equipment operators, heavy equipment mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers, and welders. Along with manpower, the center also provided a D-6 Caterpillar bulldozer to assist with snow removal efforts.
Montana does not generally fund snow removal and the services provided by Anaconda Job Corps were both sizable and essential. “We’re running out of resources,” said Everett. “There’s only so much emergency funding set aside. We’ll be out of that very shortly.”
Whether shoveling out vehicles submerged under snow pushed off the streets by snow plows or notifying citizens about street-cleaning operations, the students maintained a cheerful, can-do attitude amid artic winds and frigid temperatures.
“People were amazed to hear that we dug out all the cars for 40 blocks along 3rd and 4th streets,” said International Union of Operating Engineers lead instructor Kevin Kelly.
Along with supporting the Forest Service national priority of promoting shared stewardship, Civilian Conservation Centers also provide critical support to their local communities and, in program year 2017, volunteered 60,274 hours to community projects, equating to a dollar contribution of $1,488,156.
“I am extremely supportive of the Job Corps and all that they do for our community,” said Everett.
Civilian Conservation Centers strengthen rural and urban economies by providing youth with the education, skills and work experience to obtain and keep a living wage job. They harness the enormous potential of young people, helping them fulfill their potential while changing their lives, the lives of their families, and, through civic engagement, their communities.