Ladrika Parker visited Tuesday’s industrial job fair at the Bynum Community Center only on sudden notice.
“I haven’t worked for a while,” she said before she entered the glass doors. “My father called this morning and told me about the fair, and I didn’t have time to prepare a resume.”
More than a hundred cars, though, filled the center’s parking lot and lined both sides of the Bynum Cutoff Road before the doors opened at 3 p.m., but by 4:30, the crowd and the parking lot was beginning to thin.
Those working behind the tables set up in the gym — all beneath a giant American flag attached to the back wall — seemed to be taking resumes and passing out applications, rather than offering jobs. The hiring will come later.
Those seeking jobs conversed with the companies’ representatives and picked up small tokens and wrapped candy. A room on the other side of the center had representatives from several of the county’s employment companies. Russell Simmons of Simmons Staffing said he’d attended three fairs in the past four days and is looking forward to the Calhoun County Business Expo being held Oct. 19 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Oxford Civic Center. Another upcoming fair is being sponsored by East Alabama Works from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 2, also at the Oxford Civic Center.
On Tuesday, job seekers streamed up and down the aisles set up between the rows of tables. At times, walking among them was Astro, the Robot Dog, owned by the Oxford Police Department. One of those manning the table said they had had at least a few interested applicants. As for the dog, they were happy to demonstrate its life-like moves. One officer showed how the robot dog will endure a few shoves. If it falls over, it can get up from the floor on its own. Another officer held a tablet that showed the views seen by the robot dog’s four cameras.
After a television crew had interviewed Lorie Denton, spokeswoman for the city of Oxford, she said the three sponsors were proud that so many job seekers had come to meet industry representatives.
“The crowd has been nonstop with people lining up as early as 2:15,” she said. “We have no doubt that job seekers attending today have had a chance to speak with companies that will provide new opportunities for them and their families.”
Denton thanked Anniston Army Depot Chief of Staff Phil Trued for reaching out to help not just those who will soon lose their jobs at the depot due to workload projections for 2022, but also other job seekers.
By 4:30, the crowd was beginning to wane, and the parking lot had plenty of spaces for newcomers.
One depot employee who was arriving, Gresham Harris Jr., said he was to lose his job on Oct. 30.
“Gotta have a job,” he said.
Harris, a 26-year Army veteran and former employee at McClellan’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, spent two years waiting to be hired at the Anniston Army Depot, only to lose his job as an inspector in the small-arms repair department three years later.
Another depot employee, a painter who did not wish to share his name, said he will be laid off on April 1.
That is April Fool’s Day, and he hopes it will be a lucky day.
“I will stay until my termination date,” he said. “Something could happen, and maybe we can stay on here.”
After an hour’s long journey through the job fair, Parker was heading out with applications in her hand.
“That was good,” she said. “I enjoyed it.”