Department of Workforce Services to stay in town
Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) employment counselor Samuel Hendricksen sits behind the front desk in a half-emptied office space on Prospector Avenue. By Wednesday, Jan. 18, Hendricksen and his 10 coworkers will have transferred the remaining cardboard boxes and files to an office one-fourth the size of their current location.
The DWS office on Prospector is moving to the Bel Air building on Sidewinder Drive. DWS staff claims high rent and low case numbers as the reasons why they will move operations to a smaller location, sharing space with Community Action, a charitable organization that assists lower-income residents.
"There were about four people in here this morning, but it depends on the day sometimes we’re packed I think some people think we’ve closed," Hendricksen said. "There were people who were reacting to the rumor that our office was going to close, but thankfully, we don’t have to."
Since Hendricksen joined DWS two years ago, the Park City office appears to have gradually reduced its hours of operation. When he first began working for the office, hours had been reduced to four days a week. Then, last summer, the office reduced its hours again to two days a week Mondays and Wednesdays. The rest of the week, the staff members work at the department’s Heber City location, he says.
In May, The Park Record reported that Utah’s DWS Public Information officer Kurt Stuart was expecting the government to close Park City’s offices this January and possibly bring in a once-a-week service for the area. The average number of people coming into the Park City office was 11.5 customers a day, while other offices in the state average between 45 and 500 customers, he said.
The traffic, he said, didn’t justify the high-priced lease area in Park City, which he estimated at $23 to $36 per square foot. Stuart anticipated the remodel of the Heber City office would make it more accessible to accommodate the Park City area.
But according to Hendricksen, "there’s a need here [in Park City], it just varies." Though the Park City location will reduce its size from eight desks to two, staff will continue to split their week between Heber and Park City, Hendricksen says, serving the Park City community from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. DWS not only helps job-seekers and residents in need of support services such as financial, medical and food stamp assistance, but also works with employers, notes DWS employment counselor Sandra McCormick. McCormick, who has worked at the Prospector location since 1997, says that in the first time in five or six years, the number of jobs available is outweighing the number of job-seekers in Summit County. "Most jobs are in the ski industry right now, but we’re also seeing a lot of construction jobs, which is surprising for this time of year," she explained. "The economy has changed quite a bit. We now have more jobs than we have people to fill them." The local hotel, resort, food service and construction work available is not necessarily part-time or seasonal, but year-round and often full-time, she adds. McCormick says the same DWS staff will serve the Summit County as in the past. There have been no staff cuts, despite the move, she reports. McCormick says though the office size has been reduced, she is happy that DWS has decided to maintain a presence in Park City, especially given the rapid growth in the area and neighboring communities. "[Our new office] is a lot smaller, but I’m just happy that we’re still open that’s a major plus that we’re still able to keep an office here," she said. "We’re going to remain available to the people of Summit County and we hope they visit us at our new location." Park City’s office for the Utah Department of Workforce Services will open this coming Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 1960 Sidewinder Drive, Suite 202. For more information, call 649-8451.
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