Job fair helps sawmill employees find work

Gray Hughes

This is the fourth part of our series looking at the impact of the Rushmore Forest Products Sawmill.


On April 16, a job fair was held at the Little White Church in Hill City.

The purpose of the job fair was to help those who will soon be without work due to the closure of the Rushmore Forest Products sawmill outside of Hill City find good, steady employment.

“We had been trying to figure out how to help those impacted by the sawmill closing,” said Dennis Siebert, pastor of the Little White Church.

The talks to hold the job fair began a couple weeks ago, and what came out of those talks was a job fair that hosted over 30 potential employers from across South Dakota.

What the day represented for Siebert was a day where the Little White Church was able to live the Bible.

“We teach the Gospel, but what’s even more important is living the Gospel,” Siebert said.

What the day represented for employers and employees is a fresh start.

Vanesssa Walker with Rapid Exteriors said the day went well for her and her company.

She said there were a lot of people at the job fair in the morning, and she was happy to help these people find good, steady employment once again.

She said she had about a dozen or so individuals express interest in working for Rapid Exteriors.

But most important for her was helping people get back to work.

“As soon as I saw that the sawmill was going to shut down, I emailed Jim Neiman (president of Neiman Enterprises, who owns the Rushmore Forest Product Sawmill) to see what we could do,” Walker said. “He told us about this job fair and how that could help those who will be losing their jobs.”

Walker said her heart breaks for those who are going to lose their jobs, but she said she was happy to see so many faces out looking for employment.

Other companies shared similar stories.

Julie Penney, human resources coordinator with Simon, said the day was going well for them.

She said she and her associates talked with a lot of potential candidates, and she was optimistic that she would get a match given the number of potential employees at the event.

“We felt like this was an opportunity to show support to the employees,” she said. “I hope this job fair is able to help out not only us and other companies but especially those who will soon be without work.”

It has been hard to find adequate staffing, as well, she added, so she said she hopes this job fair will help fill a gap within her company.

Coming to the job fair from Watertown was Trish Eachen with human resources at Dakota Tube.

She said even East River the closure of the sawmill has made the news.

She, too, wanted a way where she could help the employees of the sawmill find good, steady work.

The day was good for her, she said.

“We just wanted to be able to help,” she said. “We wanted to help them through this difficult time.

Siebert said the job fair was so popular with potential employers that the Little White Church actually had to turn some away.

And if you missed out on the job fair, there is another one scheduled for April 27 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Homestead by Prairie Berry.

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