Job Fair packs 'em in

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Josh Lankford, left, waits while Leslie O'Quinn, right, signs in for the Job Fair at the Lewisburg Recreation Center.

Nearly 150 people were in line before 9 a.m. waiting for the Job Fair to start at Lewisburg's Recreation Center on Tuesday morning and within about half an hour more than 50 people joined the line.

By 12:30 p.m., 386 had signed in at the Rec Center to apply for jobs.

Some of the women were holding babies in their arms while they waited to be qualified as an applicant for one of the 175 positions funded by federal stimulus money allocated by Gov. Phil Bredesen to Marshall County because its unemployment rate is the highest in the state.

To be qualified, applicants were to have at least one child age 17 or younger living at home.

Robert Wolf, 41, of Cornersville was first in line at 7 a.m. "because I want a job... anything." Wolf said he has 15 years in restaurant work and moved from Oklahoma where he worked at a pizza restaurant to Marshall County to marry Annette Haynes.

Andrea Locke, 31, of Chance Street was looking for "anything to make money as long as it's legal," she said. "It seems like there are a lot of people willing to hire. I hope that do."

Locke mentioned industrial and restaurant work as what she might want.

Prescreening of applicants was accomplished by a battery of state employees, including Sandy Henson, supervisor of the Tennessee Department of Human Services' office on Nashville Highway.

Applicants could be employed, but they'd have to be, for example, in a household with four people with a monthly income of no more than $2,444 per month, not counting unemployment benefits.

"For example, in a two-parent household with one parent working, then the other could be eligible," Henson said, adding that one of the parents might be working at a low-paying job and apply at the Job Fair for a better paying job.

The job fair, according to Ray Brooks, president of Abeco Die Casting Co., "is fantastic and really well organized. It will be real good for the community."

Dockers Distribution General Manager David Turrentine said business "just keeps getting better" at the warehouse north of Chapel Hill. He hoped to hire "at least a couple" of applicants.

Meanwhile, John Boutwell, human resources director for Teledyne Industries, an electronics manufacturer in Lewisburg's Industrial Park, said, "We're here to help Marshall County since unemployment is at 20 percent and we have some jobs for which we could use some folks."

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