Federal job fair brings local career opportunities

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - What the federal government is calling a 12-hour hiring marathon is underway right now in Hopewell. It's happening at the Federal Prison in the area and there are plenty of jobs open, with some people being interviewed on the spot.

This is just another sign of our community: hundreds of applications being filled out at this federal job fair that is happening locally in Hopewell, but one that spans across the country.

This job fair comes right in the midst of state budget cuts. It's those cuts that will likely close the Brunswick Correctional Facility in Lawrenceville, in just a few days.

That new is leaving people like Victor Fontaine uncertain about the future. "You got to find another job. You got to start from scratch in a short period of time. It's a devastating, touchy situation."

So news of the local federal prisons in the Tri-cities hiring several correctional officers is proving to be light at the end of the tunnel. "Hope for the best, expect the worst," says Victor.

Coworker Aubrey Hawthorne is thinking the same thing. "Maybe this will be a big opportunity for me."

The additional officers planned for the low and medium security prisons are an especially important move with a recent head count showing these two facilities are overcrowded by about 700 inmates.

"We're just trying to be proactive and stop that domino effect that usually happens when new prisons open up," says Rafael Vergara with the Federal Prisons.

It's those two new facilities, one in New Hampshire and the other in West Virginia, that take this fair national. For those locations, they are hiring for just about any position you can think of, from a plumber to an officer. All you have to do is be willing to relocate.

"We're in a position to be hiring and we know the economy is bad," says Rafael.

With more than 70 people to be interviewed in Hopewell today and possibly more in the next couple of weeks from the slew of applications being filled out, the competition could be tough.

"Whatever happens, is meant to happen," says Victor.

The job fair is going on at the FCC Training Facility at the federal prison located on Cahn Avenue in Hopewell, running until 8 p.m. tonight.

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