New grant provides jobs for workers dislocated by Sevier County wildfires

GATLINBURG (WATE) – More than three months after the Sevier County and Gatlinburg fires, many are still trying to put the pieces back together. The wildfires took a number of homes as well as businesses, leaving some residents out of work.

While businesses work to get back on track and bring customers back, nearly $6 million has been set aside to help displaced workers.

Some tourism jobs continue to suffer three months after the Sevier County wildfires. Caterer Kent Robertson says he hasn’t been able to work in the last few months.

“Right now there’s just no jobs,” said Robertson. “People don’t want to come up here and stay where there’s been burns, so the phone’s just not ringing.”

Like many people, Robertson is struggling to make ends meet.

“I’m taking it easy and trying not to spend too much money with no income coming in,” said Robertson.

Robertson went to Rocky Top Sports World on Friday to apply for the new National Dislocated Worker Grant.

“We got called, they said they had jobs available for cleanup,” said Robertson. “I thought I would come down and see if I could get some extra work.”

Friday was the first day workers dislocated by the fires could apply for these jobs. Donna Stansberry with Walters State Community College says the school will be providing the training. The grant will provide money to pay workers to help clean up the city.

“We’re helping to clean up here in Sevier County, the damage that the fire had, so this can be two things, it gives these folks jobs but it also helps clean up the county,” said Stansberry.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters says this type of action is a step in the right direction.

“It’s going to help them in their recovery efforts individually, because this will put folks to work, give them a job, an opportunity to help their family,” said Mayor Waters.

The types of jobs will include property cleanup worker, excavation crew, trail laborers, case manager, maintenance worker and lead workers.

Those interested can apply next week at:

  • Monday, March 6 from 9 am to 2 pm at the American Job Center in Sevierville.
  • Tuesday, March 7 from 9 am to 2 pm at the American Job Center in Sevierville
  • Wednesday, March 8 from 9 am to 2 pm at the Community Center in Newport.

Applicants should bring two forms of identification.

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