6th Vicksburg job fair draws 2,000 to center

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2003

DeMetria Jones takes an application from Isle of Capri Casino Human Resource Clerk Mary Parker as Darlene Gibson, left, and Markeetia Davis watch Tuesday at the annual Vicksburg Area Job Fair held in the Vicksburg Convention Center.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[8/06/03]A former manager and bartender at The Biscuit Company, which closed its doors because of flooding in July, was among 2,000 people looking for employment at Vicksburg’s job fair Tuesday.

“I’m looking for something in a new field,” said Ronnie Sanders. “It’s kind of like starting over at 36 years old.” The restaurant and bar closed after mud seeped through walls and doors after heavy rains July 3. About 15 employees lost their jobs as a result.

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Another resident, Dawn Royal, has worked as a cashier, in apparel and in factories, and said she wants to try something else.

“I’m not very choicy,” she said, adding she’d put in applications at LeTourneau, Wal-Mart, Vicksburg Factory Outlets, River Region Medical Center and casinos. “And I’ve still got various more places to go.”

Sixty-eight employers were at the job fair that, in its sixth year, has become the third-largest in the state, said Joe Buckner, director of Gov. Ronnie Musgrove’s Job Fair Network and director of Tuesday’s fair at Vicksburg Convention Center.

At one exhibit, the order of the day was playfulness.

“We like to create a fun environment for our guests and our employees,” said Sandy Coward, director of human resources and community relations for the Isle of Capri Casino.

The casino’s booth was luau-themed, complete with music, a straw hut and employees donning flower leis. Employees were passing out birthday cake, as the casino is celebrating its 10th year in Vicksburg.

Mary Parker, a clerk in the human resources office at the casino, greeted applicants with a smile.

“They’re having a ball,” Parker said as she passed out applications.

Buckner said almost 300 looking for jobs were waiting when the doors opened at 9 a.m. and a steady stream continued throughout the fair, which lasted until 3 p.m.

“It looks like a lot of people from the Vicksburg area are coming out to take advantage of this,” Buckner said.

Although Warren County’s jobless rate is slightly below the state average, it’s up from last year and neighboring counties have double-digit rates.

At day’s end, nearly 2,000 people had walked through the fair, and Buckner said 310 were offered jobs on the spot. He said employers estimated 674 others would be hired within the year.

“This is one of the best fairs we’ve had,” he said. “Those are good results.”

Last year, 3,000 registered for the fair. Buckner said he had no explanation for the decreased turnout, but said attendance was great nonetheless.

“Last year was unusually high and you never know why,” he said. “But 2,000 is outstanding.”