published Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Expo draws job seekers to event at Ringgold High School

Tera Cooley, left, talks with Aflac representative Mike Coy at the Georgia Department of Labor job expo in Ringgold.
Tera Cooley, left, talks with Aflac representative Mike Coy at the Georgia Department of Labor job expo in Ringgold.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Two hours after the Georgia Department of Labor's jobs expo began Wednesday, Bill Bexley felt it was a success.

"We're fast approaching 250 [attendees] so far," said Bexley, an employment and training consultant with the department. "It's been a steady stream."

Going into the jobs expo -- which featured more than 50 employer booths -- the state hoped for 250 people over the course of the day, Bexley said. The expo ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ringgold High School.

"I really was thinking if we got 250, we'd be happy," he said.

By noon, Bexley said some folks were leaving with serious employment prospects.

"We're having people walk out the door saying they've got jobs," he said.

Job seekers like Michelle Stringer felt good about the prospects.

"I recently got my GED, so I'm trying to improve," she said.

Stringer finished her high school certificate in the spring after being out of school for 21 years.

As her kids graduated from high school and headed off to college recently, she decided to give up her job as a cook and finish what she started back in the early '90s.

"I figured I could show them that I could still do it, too," she said. "It's never too late to improve your life."

And as Stringer filled out a small stack of job applications in the bleachers, her son, Derrick Cudd -- a graduate of this very high school -- did the same.

He's going into his second semester at Southeast Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga.

And "looking for ways to pay for it," he said.

The mother and son said they weren't looking for any job in particular.

Tiffany Parker, on the other hand, was.

Parker is a 2011 graduate of LaFayette High School and started at Dalton State College before dropping classes to take on a heavier work load.

Parker is headed to Chattanooga State Community College this fall but wants to do something part time, like Cudd, to help pay her way and provide for personal necessities.

She worked for Roper Corp. at one point and wants to get back in the door there -- which is why she showed up to talk with Roper representatives at the jobs expo.

But she wound up leaving Wednesday with a handful of non-Roper opportunities in her pocket.

"Three people already said they would call me back," she said. "I think I'm doing pretty good."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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