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Interest continues to grow in job fair set for Saturday

WEIRTON — With only a few days before what officials say will be Brooke County’s first large-scale job fair, some of the participating employers are discussing what they are looking for in potential workers.

The job fair will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Vito’s 2, located at 570 Main St., Follansbee. It started as an effort to assist those set to lose their jobs at the Follansbee Koppers plant, but has since expanded to all area residents.

It is organized by JSW USA and the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Brooke County Commission and the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle.

“Our office has been bombarded with phone calls,” Chamber President Debbie Puskarich said, explaining those looking for jobs want to know what requirements employers may be looking for, how to complete a resume and the type of jobs which may be available. “They want to be prepared.”

To prepare for the job fair, a resume assistance workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at West Virginia Northern Community College’s Weirton campus. The event will be hosted by WVNCC, West Liberty University, West Virginia University, Workforce West Virginia and the Office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

Brooke County Schools is one of the close to 20 employers who have registered to take part in Saturday’s job fair, and Superintendent Jeffery Crook says the school district has many positions it is looking to fill.

“We always need bus drivers and substitute teachers,” Crook said.

For bus driver positions, Crook said individuals must be at least 21 years of age and have at least three years of driving experience. The district provides driver training in-house, he noted.

“We really need good people to drive our kids to and from school,” he said.

In addition, Crook noted there are a number of service and professional positions open, and employees are able to receive health care through the state’s PEIA system, as well as dental and vision coverage.

Mountain State Carbon, a neighbor of the Koppers plant in Follansbee, also will be participating in the job fair. The company produces coke for steelmaking purposes, and is seeking to fill positions including mechanical maintenance technicians, electrical maintenance technicians and production employees.

Koppers announced in June that it planned to close its Follansbee facility by Aug. 4. The decision left the plant’s 48 workers wondering what their next move would be.

According to information provided by the company, applicants must have either a high school diploma or GED, at least two years of prior work experience and the ability to work rotating shifts, including weekends and overtime.

Additional information can be found on their website careers.aksteel.com under Mountain State Carbon.

Dave Harvey, vice president of operations at Eagle Manufacturing, explained while the company currently has no open positions, he anticipates some openings in the future as current employees retire.

“We felt it important we participate,” Harvey said.

Jim Bogolea said it is a similar situation at Wheeling-Nisshin, where he is general manager of human resources. The plant is starting to see some employees look into retirement, and there could be jobs available early next year.

“It could be three to five, or five to 10,” Bogolea said.

Pat Ford, executive director of the BDC, expressed his appreciation to the management at Koppers for their cooperation in these efforts as the plant begins preparations to shut down.

“They have been working with us,” Ford said. “They are working with the employees.”

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