Charleston Daily Mail|
Prison Will Lift Gilmer
Wednesday August 7
Gilmer County typifies the dormant rural West Virginia economy, but it's about to get
an adrenaline jolt.
The county has only 5,970 people over the age of 16, of whom 2,470 work. That
includes 1,748 in the private sector and
722 who toil for some aspect of government, mostly Glenville State College or the
public school system.
In 1999, 21.5 percent of the 2,780 households in the county had incomes of less than
$10,000 and 27 percent of the families
with children below the age of 18 had incomes below the poverty level.
Median household income now stands at $22,857, but will be considerably higher the
next time it's computed.
That's because a $100 million medium-security federal prison will open this fall near
Bogus help-wanted posters on utility poles throughout central West Virginia now
tease the jobless with the prospect of sales
work from home for $20 an hour.
The Federal Correctional Institution-Gilmer isn't a come-on.
Warden Bryan Bledsoe listed just a few of the fabulous opportunities that a profligate
Uncle Sam has made possible:
A cook could earn $21 an hour.
Top salary for a teacher will be $45,000.
Secretaries with a GS-6 classification will earn $32,000.
Entry-level, GS-5 correction officers will gross $30,466.
But there's a catch. Those 37 and older need not apply.
The mandatory retirement age for federal law enforcement personnel is 57. An
employee can retire at any age with 25 years
experience or at age 50 with 20 years.
Working out of temporary quarters at the college, Bledsoe has hired about 80 staffers
so far, many of them experienced
Bureau of Prison hands who are returning home to West Virginia.
Bledsoe is in the process of hiring 265 more, but there's no point in driving to Glenville
to put in an application. There aren't
Would-be employees must apply via computer.
"It's an Internet world now," Bledsoe said.
Perhaps, but instead of surfing, in much of rural West Virginia they're still just sticking
their toes in the water.
This has caused no small amount of consternation in Glenville, where job- seekers
are urged to check the site daily for new
"The application process strikes me as odd," said Susan Atkinson, head librarian at
the Gilmer Public Library. "It is not an
easy site to get into, and people are having an extremely hard time figuring out how
to apply once they get there."
Start at www.usajobs.opm.gov/ and just stumble around. Look for the Bureau of
Prisons. Clue: It's past the CIA, the Defense
Logistics Agency, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and the Illinois
and Michigan Canal Heritage
It isn't an easy path for a country boy or anyone else to follow, but if he succeeded
Tuesday, he would have found a new
listing for "Food Service Assistant." Pay range is $30,466 to $43,859.
Happy days are here again.