On Sunday, August 10, Payne Montgomery and Henry Cotton announced to Bastrop and Morehouse officials and the Enterprise that Morehouse Parish's application for the ACT Work Ready Communities county initiative was accepted.

The newspaper has reported about the progress of the committee spearheading the process as Cotton and Montgomery traveled to the school board, police jury and city council to garner support for the program which will help the Parish develop and document a workforce that meets a nationally recognized standard of career readiness.

On Monday, Cotton spoke to the Enterprise about the next steps for the program.

"Our app was accepted," Cotton said. "We're just excited, and I want to thank all the people of Morehouse Parish who have offered support — the school board, the police jury, the City of Bastrop's Board of Alderman."

However, Cotton emphasized that the real work begins now, and that the school system is working to implement the career readiness training.

Dr. George Noflin, superintendent of Morehouse Parish Schools, also commented on the announcement and said that it was a tribute to city hall, the school system, business and industry leaders and to the hard work Mr. Cotton has done.

"It was a community effort," Noflin said, "and I want to say the Bastrop area does have a desire to help children and become work ready."

Noflin also pointed out the forward progress of Morehouse Parish.

"We are the third community in the state of Louisiana," Noflin said, "one of three communities that has the vision to mandate [career readiness training] so we can try to make our workforce more prepared."

Cotton also highlighted the commitment of the school board, Dr. Nordman, principal at Bastrop High School and Dr. Noflin when discussing this step forward and commended Payne Montgomery and the North Louisiana Community Enhancement Corporation for entering into the third year of the NLCEC offering the WorkKeys assessment and the KeyTrain training for the test.

Cotton said that NLCEC's efforts with individuals not in school help complement the school system's mandate.

Stay tuned to the Enterprise for additional coverage of the Work Ready Community initiative as it progresses.