Federal Grant Provides Jobs to Workers Dislocated by Sevier County Wildfire

Friday, March 03, 2017 | 2:40pm

Tennessee Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development and Walters State Community College Begin Distribution of Funding

GATLINBURG - The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) and Walters State Community College have started to distribute a $5.8 million National Dislocated Worker Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will fund the hiring of workers dislocated by the November wildfire in Sevier County.  The grant will fund jobs that will assist in the wildfire clean-up efforts around Gatlinburg.

“Our Department’s Workforce Services Division recognized funding was available through the Dislocated Worker Grant program and knew the money could play a big role in helping recovery efforts in Sevier County,” said TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips. “We worked through the Christmas holiday to ensure the application for the grant was completed and processed as quickly as possible.”

$2 million of the grant is immediately available to start the employment process in Sevier County.  The remaining $3.8 million will be available incrementally throughout the year, providing the temporary jobs and support services for dislocated workers justify the need for the additional funding.

National Dislocated Worker Grant Press Conference  Mobile American Job Center - Tennessee

March 3, 2017 is the first day dislocated workers can apply for employment that could last until December 2017.  Applicants must meet certain criteria to be eligible for employment through the grant.

  1. Individuals who lost their jobs directly due to the wildfires, regardless of the county in which they reside, or
  2. Sevier County residents who are dislocated workers, meaning they lost their jobs directly or indirectly because of the wildfires, or
  3. Sevier County residents who are have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

“This grant will both help individuals and the area as a whole move forward in the recovery process. I am grateful to the staff of our Center for Workforce Development in working diligently to get this started as soon as possible, and I encourage everyone who lost their jobs due to the fire to apply,” said Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State.

"The college, as administrative entity of the local Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, will play a key role in working with the county to hire workers and distribute funds."

Those employed by the grant will be working with one of five different agencies: Sevier County, the city of Gatlinburg, Sevierville Solid Waste Inc., the Sevier County Humane Society and the National Park Service. Jobs include a variety of positions needed to help assist in the clean-up from one of the worst wildfires in Tennessee history.

To apply, or to determine eligibility for employment, dislocated workers can visit the American Job Center at 1216 Graduate Drive in Sevierville, or contact Fran Valentine, the American Jobs Center career specialist, at 865-286-6378 or Frances.Valentine@ws.edu.