200 seek construction jobs

Published 11:18 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Construction of the new High Street United Methodist Church on Camp Parkway is under way. During a Monday and Tuesday job fair, about 200 applied for construction jobs for the $8.7 million project.

FRANKLIN—Robert Ledbetter was surprised that some 200 people showed at this week’s job fair looking for temporary work: building of the new High Street United Methodist Church.

“There were no empty seats,” said Ledbetter, safety director and human relations officer for Kenbridge Construction, the general contractor for the $8.7 million church on Camp Parkway across from Riverdale Elementary School. “I should’ve expected it, but I’m surprised.”

Ledbetter and subcontractors held the job fair at Paul D. Camp Community College’s Workforce Development Center on Monday and Tuesday

“This is not normal,” Ledbetter said about the turnout of applicants. “The church was interested in trying to help the community and getting the word out, and we said we’d do that.”

“It’s good for the church and good for the community,” he added.

High Street United Methodist Church is building on 47 acres. Ground was broken for the new church in June. The building will feature a 350-seat sanctuary, a two-story education building, a fellowship hall with a kitchen and administration offices.

December 2011 is the expected completion date.

Ledbetter said Kendridge was looking for laborers, brick masons, electricians, plumbers and skilled carpenters.

“I haven’t counted the applications, but I’m sure we’ve got close to 100 applications,” he said less than two hours after the job fair opened.

Nelson Ridley was among those hoping to find work.

“Since (International Paper) has laid off, there hasn’t been a lot of work here in this area,” Ridley said. “It’ll be a blessing, I think, for the people.”

Ledbetter said he wasn’t sure Monday how many people would be hired.

“We’re going to have to wait to see where we are and how things go,” he said.

While he wouldn’t discuss wages, Ledbetter said everyone would make more than the minimum wage.

“I wish I could hire everybody, but I really can’t,” he said. “The construction business has been just as slow as everything else. It’s a hard market out there.”

“That’s a very good sign when you have people out there looking for work,” he added. “They don’t want to just sit at home…they want to work.”