Bill Jamerson gave a very interesting program on the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCCs) Thursday night at the Estherville Public Library.
The Corps or "Cs", as Jamerson called them, did public works projects throughout the country, building many of the park structures we still use today. A prime example would be the lodge at Fort Defiance and Gull Point state parks.
Workers got room, board and a dollar a day - hence the name for Jamerson's program, Dollar-a-Day Boys.
What's really interesting about Jamerson's program was that we could use something like it today.
With entitlements on center stage for budget cuts, reactivating the CCC could be a good way to kill a couple birds with one stone - it would give meaningful employment rather than a handout to the unemployed and it would help renovate our crumbling public works infrastructure.
CCC workers could maintain grounds and repair structures in our state parks - saving the DNR an enormous amount of money. They could help police litter in public parks, clean out road ditches and maintain government facilities - all things that simply aren't getting done now because there just isn't the money.
If people had to work for their money - and certainly it would be more than a dollar a day today - it would be more of a hand up than a handout.
And our public facilities would benefit greatly, too, making them more attractive for visitors and tourism.
As entitlements go on the chopping block, perhaps this could be a way to strike a compromise.
If it worked in the 1930s, it could sure work now.