Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

April 15, 2009

Now hiring

McDowell locks up hundreds of jobs

In tough economic times, reports of new jobs are always encouraging. Especially close to 500 new and high-paying jobs for southern West Virginia.

Hiring for the long-planned $224 million federal prison project in McDowell County will begin later this month, according to U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

Rockefeller, who toured the federal prison construction site last week at the Indian Ridge Industrial Park in Welch, said job postings for the prison can be found at www.usajobs.com beginning this month. Interested job seekers can also contact the Region 1 Workforce West Virginia office in Princeton, which is assisting with the hiring process.

Officials said the construction and management of the federal prison will require about 500 jobs, including cooks, supervisors, medical doctors, dentists, nurses, recreation specialists, teachers, accountants, secretaries, facility management positions, warehouse supervisors and correctional officers.

These new jobs will help many families who are struggling to make ends meet in tough economic times. Rockefeller said the federal prison also is a “big economic boost” for the region as it will help to generate new revenue and tax dollars for southern West Virginia — and McDowell County in particular.

According to Melissa Aguilar, executive director of Region 1 Workforce West Virginia, the federal prison will create good paying jobs for the region. However, Aguilar noted candidates seeking employment at the federal prison will have to meet certain qualifications, including a drug-free lifestyle, a credit check and must be willing to undertake a training program for the position they are seeking.

The prison is being constructed at the Indian Ridge Industrial Park in Welch. It is located near the mountainous borders of McDowell and Wyoming counties. The construction is expected to be finished later this year.

The federal prison project has met little to no opposition from the citizens of McDowell County, who have largely embraced the $224 million project and the hundreds of new jobs it will create. Those jobs are particularly welcome in tough economic times. As unemployment numbers across the region continue to rise, most realize it could still be months before the national recession ends.

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