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Displaced workers apply for jobs at fair

POSTED: May 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.
When Donna Fricks went to work at what is now Mohawk Carpets, the first George Bush was president and a gallon of gas was about a dollar.

Fricks is among 366 people who will be out of a job when the Dahlonega plant closes in June. With gas prices nearing $4 a gallon, she ponders the cost of commuting to a new job.

"It’s too far to drive and gas is too high," she said of many of the jobs at a job fair in Dahlonega on Tuesday.

But like many of the displaced workers, Fricks was filling out applications in search of new work.

Donna Chambers of Murrayville has been at the plant for three and a half years. She said the plant closing shocked many.

"It was a surprise," she said of the news that her job on the spinning frames would be coming to an end. She said that there were a number of jobs that appealed to her, and she was collecting applications as she made her way around the gym floor of the Lumpkin County recreation center.

Employers ranging from banks to manufacturers had tabletop exhibits about potential opportunities. Most were in places like Cumming, Gainesville and Alpharetta.

Che Howe of Dahlonega said the idea of a commute was not exciting. He currently lives just four miles away from his job at the Pine Tree plant.

Also among the exhibitors was Lanier Technical College. While many were not considering it, their future employment may require a return visit to school. An estimated 40 percent of the work force at Mohawk does not have a high school diploma.

By late afternoon, more than 160 workers had visited the job fair. The event was sponsored by the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce.

"There have been a lot of people filling out applications and we’ve encouraged employees to maximize their opportunity," said Amy Booker of the chamber staff.

The plant, which makes carpet yarns, announced in April that it would close on June 6.



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