Residents spring into new jobs

As seasons change, so do some people's proverbial hats

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— What would you rather do for a living this summer? Would you prefer to work as a convenience store clerk, selling hot dogs and cigarettes for $9.50 an hour, hump drywall for $9 an hour, or paddle a raft as a ranger for the new Yampa River State Park for $7.84 an hour? The choice is yours.

All of the jobs mentioned above have been posted recently at the Colorado Workforce Center office in Sundance Plaza.

April is the time of year when resort employers here are hoping they can keep a stable workforce gainfully employed throughout the summer. Many employees are facing a transition to another line of work.

Dennis Scheiwe, manager of the new Yampa River State Park west of Hayden needs to hire eight to 10 seasonal workers for the park's first season with all construction complete.

He knows it will be hard to compete with the wages offered to construction laborers and convenience store clerks.

"They can make more money working at Mcdonald's or Kum and Go," Scheiwe said. "But we have the advantage of offering outdoor work at the state park. And they have the opportunity to work into testing for a full-time job."

The state park is seeking to hire a campground host at $6.91 an hour and will offer free hookups for the host's own camper during the season to sweeten the pot. They also need to hire a receptionist, an interpretive ranger to give natural history presentations to the public, and summer park rangers at $7.84 per hour. Among the rangers will be two river rangers whose responsibilities will include checking on seven public access points along the river stretching to Cross Mountain in Moffat County.

Two days a week, their duty will involve floating the river and contacting floaters to make certain they have lifejackets on board, and are following regulations.

The building trades have been one sector of the economy in high demand in recent years. Major projects like Yampa Valley Medical Center, the remodel of Steamboat Springs High School, and the addition of environmental controls at the Hayden Power Plant fueled a competitive situation with resort construction at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, including the Steamboat Grand Hotel. Those projects are complete, but Pat Bonny of the Workforce Center said she has seen a recent seasonal uptick in the posting of construction job openings. She expects the construction of high-end homes here this summer to keep the demand for construction workers high.

Tom Fox of Fox Construction said he has been relying on local high school and college students as a source of construction labor for years.

He said he teaches the young people the meaning of hard work, and at the same time, develops their skills. He said they make a significant contribution to his business.

He added that one trend he has seen lately is experienced carpenters from other states applying for jobs. But instead of being generalists with wide ranging skills, they have mastered one specialty working in tract housing projects in California, for example.

"I had one guy come in and say he was the best there is at building dormers," Fox said. "What am I going to do with a guy who only builds dormers?"

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