Whitehall (WQOW) - Messy travel conditions did not slow down interest at a job fair today. Hi-Crush, a frac sand company set up shop in Whitehall, looking to hire. During the first few hours more than 400 people showed up.
Last year Hi-crush held a successful job fair to staff its Augusta plant, and Tuesday night they set out to do the same in Whitehall
"In Augusta we hired 97 percent of our employees from that job fair," said Vice President of Business Development, Chad McEver.
Construction on a proposed mine in Whitehall is set to begin in the next few weeks, which means jobs seekers will be hearing back shortly.
"We like to bring them on get them involved in the construction," said McEver "So people will start getting calls immediately and start hiring immediately as well. "
For those in attendance that's good news.
"I was very encouraged by it," said job seeker Mike Shrewsberry "The Hi-Crush people were very friendly, very personable and very direct in what they are looking for out of people and willing to listen to what I had to offer."
Hi-Crush plans to hire about 65 people and Gerke Excavation plans to hire another 15 to 20 employees. All of which are full time permanent positions.
"When our wet plant and our excavating processes shut down for the winter we keep all those guys on full time," said McEver.
Jobs starting at fifteen dollars an hour brought many people out but job seekers say the frac sand industry itself also has an allure.
"It's a product that's in demand.," said Shrewsberry "It's probably the best in the world for what it's intended for. So that type of operation has a great deal of professional interest for me."
And Hi-Crush says it's not just jobs that they plan to bring to town.
"We do like to be a part of the community," said McEver "We like to get involved. A lot of causes in the area we'll contribute financially, we'll contribute man power or equipment if needed, and volunteer hours as well."
Those talked to say the health concerns about the frac sand industry did not affect their interest in the jobs. Hi-Crush officials say they take all necessary steps to protect their employees, as per the mine safety and health administration.
All told, over 600 people went through the job fair today and with about 80 positions available that's stiff competition.
Trempealeau County does have a frac sand moratorium in place but the city of Whitehall recently annexed land to be used by Hi-Crush. That allows the company to get around the moratorium but some steps still have to be taken.
The mining reserves are in Whitehall so a reclamation plan would have to be approved there. A conditional use permit for the rail spur and dry plant would have to get the green light in nearby independence.
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