When the economy tanked in 2008, Jason Branstetter knew he needed more stability in his employment after land development work came to a screeching halt.
He went to the city of Gresham, was hired into the Department of Environmental Services, and has been there ever since.
"Working for the city has been great because I am able to do a variety of interesting and challenging projects that benefit the entire community," Branstetter said. "It's amazing when my family comes into town to be able to show them all the things I completed."
Gresham celebrated CityFest Saturday afternoon in the City Hall parking lot, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway, a family-friendly event where those interested could learn about the many job opportunities working for the city.
Employees from various departments were on hand to talk about their career paths and share local resources to help prepare people for the workforce.
"CityFest is great because it's a big push for pathways to employment — so if someone needs a job the city has them," said Gresham's Chief of Police Robin Sells.
For Branstetter, who was recently promoted to senior civil engineer just two months ago, his favorite part about working for the city is that every day is different, which keeps the job entertaining.
Stephanie Betteridge, senior manager of technology, and Aman Singh, project manager with Geographic Information Systems, had visitors at CityFest share their favorite places in Gresham. One young visitor chose Main City Park as the best place to go in the city, because it was where he hit his first home run.
"It is always great to learn the stories behind each person's favorite place," said Betteridge. "GIS identifies special relationships and patterns throughout the city, and then we use that information to help others make the best possible decisions."
Betteridge has been working for Gresham for 11 years, while Singh, who moved with his family from Sydney, Australia, has been working here for 1 year. Together their department analyzes all the data available throughout the city and shares it with other projects. A lot of the information is accessible to the public as well at www.greshamoregon.gov/Maps-and-Geographic-Information-Systems/.
"I love that our work provides answers from growing food to managing disasters — and everything in between," Singh said.
While some came to CityFest for the potential work, there was plenty of entertainment as well. The many children at the event enjoyed checking out the firetrucks and meeting firefighters, free popcorn, a raffle drawing and a bike rodeo course.
The Gresham Police Department was another one of the more popular groups at CityFest. Officers walked amongst the crowd, taking photos, shaking hands and handing out sticker badges for the city's youngest deputies. They also introduced the community to the K9 officers and let people tear through a section of the parking lot in police cruisers with the sirens blaring.
Gresham police are also making a push to hire four new entry-level officers after the positions became available in the recent budget. Gresham has the second lowest ratio of officers to citizens per capita in the state of Oregon, so these new hires will help improve service and community safety.
"With the addition of these four officers it will be the highest this department has ever been," Sells said.
Sue Hansen is the senior utility worker for Gresham's Parks and Recreation Department, and she has been with the city for 13 years. Her role is to manage the maintenance of all the parks, open spaces and trails within the city. Hansen's team cares for 29 parks and 1,900 acres of green space.
"It's a family oriented, positive environment working for the city," Hansen said.
Hansen began as a seasonal worker, and then was brought back as a limited term employee before settling into a permeant position.
"I have enjoyed my time working here, and I wish I would have found it sooner," she said.