Raymondville Jail Hiring Additional Correction Staff

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RAYMONDVILLE – Things are looking up for people looking for jobs in Willacy County. One of the employers looking for people to hire in Friday's job fair was the corrections facility.

Willacy County is on track to start the year on an upswing. They began last year with a 12.7 unemployment rate. Over the course of the year, more people found jobs and they shed four points.

A steady stream of residents of Raymondville and the surrounding Willacy County took advantage of our Heart of the Valley Job Fair. Of the employers present, La Salle Corrections received many applications.

The same facility recently sent layoff letters under the previous administration, CoreCivic.

Workforce Solutions Center Director Brenda Guerrero says many feared it would dry up employment opportunities, especially given the local history.

"We recently had Walmart close back in 2016. Prior to that, we had MTC who was another big employer that we had here. They closed and laid-off many people. We saw a very impact in our unemployment at that point," she explained.

Human resource manager with La Salle, Griselda Gutierrez, says the layoffs didn't mean automatic loss of employment.

Gutierrez says, "With CoreCivic. they did get their layoff letters, but La Salle Management, they did pick up 90, maybe 95 percent of the employees from CoreCivic. They were transitioned over."

Now they're looking to fill 10 positions for corrections officer and one position for food service.

Job seeker Ludy Tijerina has her eye on the job that pays more, food service worker.

She explains, "Their position is a supervisor position, so I'm aiming for that."

It pays a dollar more per hour than the corrections officer position. She found this opportunity after job hunting for two months. It's not an easy task.

"It's hard. It's hard. In Raymondville, you either work for the city or you work for the school district mostly," Tijerina says.

She is currently employed in Harlingen. She wants a job in town. Guerrero says it's a common situation for many job seekers.

"I think the transportation for some might be an issue, having to transport and have reliable transportation to go out there. So, recently we had a couple of employers who came into the area that are now hiring. So, we see some life come back here to our area. Some good things," said Guerrero.

Job seekers are hoping it doesn't stop here.

Tijerina says, "I'm just hoping that more businesses are still attracted to Raymondville. Raymondville needs more job opportunities."

With a steady downward trend in unemployment rates in 2017, Workforce Solutions expects this year to be full of local opportunities.

Other employers present at the job fair included Stripes, Auto Zone and La Jarra.

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CHANNEL 5 NEWS is dedicating two weeks of coverage to employment. Learn more on the Heart of the Valley page.