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McDonough Job Fair attracts hundreds, shows need

Photo by Elaine Rackley: People of various ages were seeking employment for a variety of positions at the McDonough Job Fair held Friday. Attendees began forming a line in the parking lot of the McDonough Presbyterian Church as they waited for the doors to open at 10 a.m.

Photo by Elaine Rackley: People of various ages were seeking employment for a variety of positions at the McDonough Job Fair held Friday. Attendees began forming a line in the parking lot of the McDonough Presbyterian Church as they waited for the doors to open at 10 a.m.

Former Lowe’s employee, Demarcus Duffey, joined the long line that snaked around the McDonough Presbyterian Church parking lot Friday. He was among hundreds looking for work, who started forming a line before the doors opened at 10 a.m., for the 4th annual McDonough Job Fair.

More than 200 people had taken part in the job fair just an hour later, at 11 a.m., said Mayor Billy Copeland’s executive assistant, Leslie Balog.

“It’s exciting to be able to provide this opportunity for people, and to see people eager to participate,” said Balog.

City Clerk Janis Price said the fair tallied at least 500 people Friday. Attendees flocked to the booths of large companies, such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern Railway, which were among the 29 companies represented at the event.

Demarcus Duffey, 26, of McDonough, worked for Lowe’s for five years as a kitchen designer. He said he was laid-off a week ago. “This is my first time ever attending a job fair,” said Duffey. “I am looking for something in the design field, or clerical work.”

Duffey is a graduate of Eagles Landing High school, and spent a year at Gordon College.

William Smith, also an Eagles Landing High School graduate, said he has been job-hunting for a year, after he was laid off by the Filter Kleen Co. He said he started working following high school. Smith said he was also attending his first job fair.

“I am little apprehensive, because I am not sure what to expect,” said Smith, 29, of McDonough. “I am looking for a warehouse job. I have worked on a forklift.”

A couple, Sophie and John Page, came looking for upper-management employment. For 13 months, Sophie Page, 66, worked as the director of sales and marketing, for a College Park company, she said.

“I was looking for something in sales or marketing,” she said. “But, they didn’t really have anything in my line of work. Most of it was for some type of labor work.”

Her husband, John, 67, said he was looking for work in transportation or warehouse operations. He said he once owned a company in Denver, Colo., –– Transportation Management Services Inc. He said he did make some contacts at the job fair, however, and was able to network with several of the representatives there.

“The list of companies they have are not hiring upper-level management,” he said. “I did leave my resume for them to pass it on.”

Sponsors of the job fair worked hard to make applying for jobs easy. Atlanta Regional Commission Business Solution Representative Clinton Covington brought a large recreational vehicle, which had been transformed into a mobile employment center.

“We are trying to provide an alternative solution, by providing them a mobile career center,” said Covington. “We provide job-placement assistance, as well as training to the dislocated worker who is laid off, due to no fault of their own. We have over 10 computer stations where individuals can use the Internet and apply for jobs. My staff will review resumes and assist them in locating local jobs within the area.”

Amtrak representative, Sarah Ray, encouraged job seekers to also check Amtrak’s web site. “We are hiring conductors, train attendants, ticket agents, and diesel agents,” said Ray. “You have to be willing to relocate to Charleston, S. C., or Washington D.C.”

Anthony Sisk’s grandmother, Sandra Viar, quickly pulled him out of the Amtrak line. “ He can’t relocate,” said Viar. “They just cut his hours back at work.”

Sisk, 20, graduated from Woodland High school in 2010. The McDonough resident has worked at Gold’s Gym for four years. “If I find a full-time job, I will take it,” Sisk said.

Kandis Johnson said she submitted 10 copies of her resume during the job fair. Johnson, 20, graduated from Stockbridge High School in 2009, and studied for a year at DeKalb Technical College. Johnson, of McDonough, works two part-time jobs, one at Pep Boys Warehouse, and the other at Son of a Greek by Olympia restaurant.

“I am looking for something full-time, something more stable,” said Johnson. “I thought they would have more employers hiring for clerical positions.”