By Mark Evans

[email protected]

Joe Rutledge realizes he has some figuratuvely big shoes to fill in his new position.

Rutledge recetly became youth case manager for Ste. Genevieve and Perry counties for the Workforce Development Board of Southeast Missouri (WDB). He replaces Stacy Snider, who was promoted.

The youth program works with individuals up to age 24, helps them get a GED, helps prepare them to compete in the workforce, and also counsels them.

At a  July 17 open house, WDB president Tom Greminger called Snider “the top performer out of any of the locations we have.”

Rutledge went into the US Marine Corps after high school and served four years. After getting his honorable discharge, he joined the Missouri National Guard, got married and pursued his degree in education.

He has since worked as a physical education teacher at Farmington schools for a year and then for a non-profit foundation in Fredericktown, before starting his WDB career in Fredericktown.

“This past April, whenever Stacy moved on and her office was open, she said, since I had been doing the same job and had some experience, instead of hiring someone new, she invited me to try to get down here and try to maintain all the stuff that she had done,” Rutledge said. “It is a lot. She had really good connections and resources here, so I’m just trying to get my footing and my foundation in so I can pick up where she left off.”

The whole idea of the WDB is to help employers find good employees looking for work and to help prepare inividuals in the community to be more employable and to bring the two together. The youth and adult programs also helps individuals who have experienced a wide array of problems.

“My first goal is just to get established, to maintain those connections and get familiar with Ste. Genevieve and what it as to offer the youth here,” Rutledge said.

He said that getting to the kidn of confort level Snider had developed in the community will take saome work.

“She knew a lot about Ste. Genevieve, so she knew where to place the youth and things like that,” he said. “So, making connections, once I establish that, I can help the youth a lot more, if someone needs a  job or work experience, were I can place them and what’s available now, especially with COVID and all the restrictions.”

The pandemic has altered the whole landscape for this type of programm.

“What companies and businesses are maybe not wanting anything because they’re doing more virtual stuff, is what I’m trying to deterine,” Rutledge said, “and how we can adapt to that, versus, if there’s  not a labor market right now, what kind of skill foundation are they going to get.”