WINDSOR – Jobs.
They are available.
Monday night, the Bertie County Commissioners were told there are almost 50 jobs available in the county right now. The information came from Robert Jones of Bertie Correctional Institute.
Jones was invited to appear before the board to talk by Board Chairman J. Wallace Perry (D-3rd) at the request of fellow Commissioners Ronald D. Wesson (D-1st) and John Trent (U-4th).
“I guess for the sake of full transparency, I want to say that Commissioner Trent and myself had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Jones prior to becoming commissioners,” Wesson said. “That meeting was so interesting in terms of what he shared with us about where the (state) prison was as an opportunity for employment here in the county.
“Having had that meeting, we wanted to share that with our fellow commissioners and the public,” he said. “Mr. Chairman, you were gracious enough to allow him to be on the agenda today.”
Jones said he appreciated Perry allowing him to be on the agenda and that he needed the help of the board and the public.
“I am here with my hat in my hand is the best way to say it,” he said. “I need your help. I need the community’s help. At the same time, I think we offer help to the community to better the employment in the county and the surrounding counties.”
He talked about the history of the facility in Bertie County. Jones said when it originally opened, BCI was a 1,000-bed closed custody, maximum security prison. The facility has since expanded by 504 beds of medium custody.
“We are looking at approximately 1,504 beds for inmates to be housed,” Jones said. “That’s a large prison. There’s a lot going on inside the prison and it takes a lot of people who are going to be dedicated to do the job.”
Jones provided a brochure that shares information about the employment opportunities at BCI and the requirements for those wishing to seek a job at the facility.
Those seeking employment need only to meet a few criteria. Those include being a citizen of the United States, having a high school diploma or GED, be at least 20 years of age, have no felonies, pass academic, psychological and drug testing, pass a physical exam and successful complete basic and annual training.
Jones said he felt the facility had missed a group of young people over the last five years that were eligible for employment, but perhaps didn’t know the jobs were available. He said the prison needed the community’s help to reach those people and let them know jobs were available.
“There are jobs right here at your back door rather than having to travel an hour or more just to get a job,” he said. “I think they have been misled about what the requirements are and some of what takes place prior to getting a job.”
Perry asked about starting salary and Jones said it was $27,800 per year plus benefits.
Jones also said those wishing to apply could now go online if they desired to. The website is www.osp.state.nc.us/jobs. Those without internet service can also contact the prison at 794-8600.
He said those who wanted a job in the community had that opportunity.
“They are pretty decent jobs and you can make a living,” he said. “You won’t get rich, but you can pay the bills and have retirement and some benefits.”
Trent asked if the community members could pick up the applications and distribute them in the community and Jones said they could.
Wesson talked about the good job Jones has done at the prison.
“I know Mr. Jones doesn’t want to blow his own horn, but when the prison first got started here in Bertie, things were a little bit rough,” he said. “I think there were a lot of misconceptions about the job in the early stages. There were rumors about having a credit check in order to get a job, which is not true.
“I think what we really need is to reintroduce this employment opportunity to our community,” the commissioner continued. “It is going to take the entire community whether its preachers or a civic organization. If they can identify qualified individuals they know that are looking for work, here is an employment opportunity.”
Wesson said he thought of the prison as “our jobs” in Bertie County and wanted those who were qualified and looking for work to have an opportunity. He also said good things are going on at the prison.
Trent said the work was “more of a career than just a job” because of the retirement and benefits.
Commissioner Rick Harrell (D-2nd) asked how many vacancies were currently at the prison and Jones said he currently had 47. Harrell asked him to return in 60 days to let the board know how much progress was made.