> Local officials are working overtime to try to match up laid-off and soon-to-be laid-off workers with jobs in Central Oregon.
"We're setting up the recruitment forums," said Madras-Jefferson County Chamber Director Holli Van Wert, who is optimistic about employment prospects for displaced employees.
Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, construction and farm sectors all gearing up to hire workers, she said.
The parent company of Seaswirl Boats Inc. announced Feb. 27 that it is closing the Culver plant in 60 days, and laying off 170 workers. That news came on top of the Feb. 8 layoff of 140 employees at Bright Wood Corp.
Kevin Hormann, assistant superintendent of transitional services for Deer Ridge, is advising people who have lost their jobs during the recent layoffs to apply for positions at the prison.
The Oregon Department of Corrections is in the process of hiring the workers who will be onboard in July in preparation for the arrival of inmates at the minimum-security facility in September.
"Our human resources people have been out doing meetings, encouraging them to apply," said Hormann.
"We're certainly looking for local people to apply and hopefully, we can hire a sizable number," he said. "We have a lot of second career people in corrections."
The Madras office of the Oregon Employment Department, at 243 Southwest Third St., 475-2382, and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, at the same address, 475-7118, are also involved in matching employees with jobs.
The chamber is concerned about the loss of jobs, but Van Wert is convinced that the employment picture will turn around in a few months.
"Hold tight," she suggested to those facing unemployment. "We're on the edge of an explosion. The majority are going to come out on the other side of this OK."
"Jefferson County is resilient," she said. "We will bounce back. This isn't something that will be devastating to us."