2017-04-20 / Front Page

Employment Fair Draws 130 Workers

Employers Like Turnout, And Say Many Job Opportunities Still Available in Local Area
By Kevin R. Hess


Forty-nine tables representing businesses and organizations from St. Ignace and throughout the Eastern Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City, and the state were in attendance for the St. Ignace Job Fair Tuesday, April 11, at Little Bear East Arena. Job seekers visited the tables and filled out applications. Employment opportunities included food service, housekeeping, corrections officers, border patrol, skilled labor, administration, nursing, and even pirates. Forty-nine tables representing businesses and organizations from St. Ignace and throughout the Eastern Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City, and the state were in attendance for the St. Ignace Job Fair Tuesday, April 11, at Little Bear East Arena. Job seekers visited the tables and filled out applications. Employment opportunities included food service, housekeeping, corrections officers, border patrol, skilled labor, administration, nursing, and even pirates. Fifty businesses and organizations representing the Eastern Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City, and the State of Michigan, took part in the St. Ignace Job Fair Tuesday, April 11, at Little Bear East Arena. Approximately 130 job seekers came in to consider the different opportunities available. Jobs ranged from seasonal food service and housekeeping, to careers with employers such as War Memorial Hospital and the Michigan Department of Corrections. Many businesses were looking to fill a few positions, while others had greater needs. One such business was Mackinaw Seasonal Properties, which operates many hotels and restaurants in Mackinaw City. They employ 300 employees each year, and have several positions still available. Star Line Mackinac Ferry is looking to hire about 50 more employees than last year due to its acquisition of Arnold Line this winter. Representatives said they are doing well, but there are still positions to fill. Shepler’s Ferry was also in attendance.


After visiting tables and learning what opportunities were available, many job seekers took the time to fill out the applications they acquired. Here, (clockwise, from left) Desiree Allan, Amanda Hanson, Marissa Sweeney, Olivia Luepnitz, Eden Sanborn, and Marley Matson complete their applications. After visiting tables and learning what opportunities were available, many job seekers took the time to fill out the applications they acquired. Here, (clockwise, from left) Desiree Allan, Amanda Hanson, Marissa Sweeney, Olivia Luepnitz, Eden Sanborn, and Marley Matson complete their applications. Blarney Castle, which owns 14 filling stations in the EUP, including three in St. Ignace, is looking for customer service associates for many of their locations, as well as a manager for its Rudyard store. They own the Shell stations on US-2 and in downtown St. Ignace, as well as the B.P. sta- tion at the Truck Stop.


LaSalle High School seniors Rob Rountree (left) and Preston Mayle talk with representatives from Straits State Park about job opportunities. The park was looking to hire seven people for Straits State Park, and three for Mackinac Island State Harbor. LaSalle High School seniors Rob Rountree (left) and Preston Mayle talk with representatives from Straits State Park about job opportunities. The park was looking to hire seven people for Straits State Park, and three for Mackinac Island State Harbor. Many restaurants were in attendance, including McDonald’s, Big Boy, Java Joe’s/Jose’s Cantina, Galley Restaurant, Driftwood, and the Gangplank Pub & Grub, all of St. Ignace, and Audie’s Restaurant of Mackinaw City.

Marcy Jo Bentgen, co-owner of Gangplank Pub & Grub, said she has participated in the job fair every year they have owned the restaurant. 2017 will be their sixth full season.


Included among the businesses represented at the job fair was the Mackinaw Pirate Ship, a new business opening this spring in Mackinaw City. Mackinaw Pirate Ship is a pirate adventure focused toward children’s entertainment several times a day. Trips will take place aboard The Good Fortune, a 65-foot, 1800s replica pirate ship, and will last approximately one hour to one hour fifteen minutes, up to seven times per day. The boat will travel from the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Dock and feature sword fights, raising a pirate flag, treasure maps, sunken treasure, and a skit presented by the pirates on board. Here, manager and head pirate Deidre Phillipson (left) poses with fellow pirate and ship captain Rudy Hennekes. Included among the businesses represented at the job fair was the Mackinaw Pirate Ship, a new business opening this spring in Mackinaw City. Mackinaw Pirate Ship is a pirate adventure focused toward children’s entertainment several times a day. Trips will take place aboard The Good Fortune, a 65-foot, 1800s replica pirate ship, and will last approximately one hour to one hour fifteen minutes, up to seven times per day. The boat will travel from the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Dock and feature sword fights, raising a pirate flag, treasure maps, sunken treasure, and a skit presented by the pirates on board. Here, manager and head pirate Deidre Phillipson (left) poses with fellow pirate and ship captain Rudy Hennekes. The job fair “has always been good for us,” she said. “We’ve hired two, and we have four more positions we are hoping to fill.”

Verna Erskine, manager of Audie’s Restaurant, loves the job fair and believes it is important to show support for the community.


This year the St. Ignace job fair was extended to 4 p.m., allowing many high school students to participate after school had dismissed. Here, (clockwise from left) Trevor LaJoice, Caiti Dean, Katlyn Donajkowski, and Kenny Rickley fill out applications for various job opportunities. This year the St. Ignace job fair was extended to 4 p.m., allowing many high school students to participate after school had dismissed. Here, (clockwise from left) Trevor LaJoice, Caiti Dean, Katlyn Donajkowski, and Kenny Rickley fill out applications for various job opportunities. “I think (the job fair) is excellent,” she said. “I’m proud of my community and I want to support it in any way I can.”

She did note, however, that in the six years she has participated, this fair brought her the least number of applications.

Hotels and motels were well represented, with six from St. Ignace, one from Mackinaw City, in addition to Mackinaw Seasonal Properties, and Mission Point Resort of Mackinac Island. Several clothing and specialty stores from St. Ignace, Mackinaw City, and Mackinac Island were also in attendance.


At left: The Gangplank Pub & Grub was among several restaurants represented at the St. Ignace Job Fair Tuesday, April 11. Co-owner, manager, and head chef Marcy Jo Bentgen (left), said she has participated in the job fair every year, and 2017 will mark her sixth full season of operating the restaurant. The Gangplank was looking to fill four positions before they open in May. Mrs. Bentgen is pictured here with friend Tina Carlson. At left: The Gangplank Pub & Grub was among several restaurants represented at the St. Ignace Job Fair Tuesday, April 11. Co-owner, manager, and head chef Marcy Jo Bentgen (left), said she has participated in the job fair every year, and 2017 will mark her sixth full season of operating the restaurant. The Gangplank was looking to fill four positions before they open in May. Mrs. Bentgen is pictured here with friend Tina Carlson. Superior Fabrication Company from Kincheloe, and Northern Wings Repair from Newberry participated in the job fair looking for skilled labor. Superior Fabrication is looking for experienced machinists or welders, but didn’t find much interest at the job fair.

“There just aren’t enough skilled laborers around,” said Superior’s human resource manager, Ferne Sherlund.

Northern Wings Repair is seeking workers for shipping and receiving, as well as skilled laborers with machining, welding, laser cutting, and fabrication experience. Their representatives also see a need for more skilled laborers in the area.

The Michigan National Guard, Michigan State Police, U.S. Border Control, and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) were also present. Many of them see in- terest from students who have interest in law enforcement or criminal justice careers.

“We have 700 openings this year, all over the state,” said Jen Metro, prison counselor and MDOC recruiter. “In the next three years, 3,000 MDOC employees will be retiring. There are some great opportunities available.”

The Department of Corrections has opportunities for employment for corrections officers, health service, food service, and others.

Kewadin Casino, Straits State Park, War Memorial Hospital, First National Bank, and the EUP Intermediate School District were among others that were represented, as well as local organizations Michigan Works, the St. Ignace Planning Commission, the St. Ignace Library, and AmeriCorps Vista.

Three new businesses also took part, Hunt’s pasty shop, Java Joe’s Burgers and Fries, and the Mackinaw Pirate Ship.

Hunt’s Mackinaw Pastie and Cookie Company has a store in Mackinaw City, and will soon be opening a second location in St. Ignace, in the former Flame restaurant on US-2 across from Family Fare.

Joe and Sandy Durm, owners of Java Joe’s and Jose’s Cantina, have purchased the Hillside House Restaurant property at 1040 North State Street, and will soon open it. The restaurant will be called Java Joe’s Burgers and Fries and will feature fresh, homemade burgers and hand-cut fries, in a 60’s-style theme.

The Mackinaw Pirate Ship will soon set sail from the Star Line dock in Mackinaw City, and is looking for a few more pirates. The Mackinaw Pirate Ship is owned by Navis Cruises of Munising, and is a 65- foot replica of an 1800s pirate ship. It will offer a pirate-themed adventure focused toward children. Trips will be an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, and will include sword fights, raising a pirate flag, treasure maps, finding sunken treasure, and a full skit presented by the pirates on board. There will also be an adults-only evening cruise on weekends and as needed during busy season. Rudy Hennekes of St. Ignace, a longtime captain with Arnold Line Ferry, will captain the ship. Deidre Phillipson is the manager and head pirate. The ship is being prepared on Drummond Island and will soon make its way to Mackinaw City. The ship will open for business on Memorial Day weekend.

The St. Ignace Planning Commission was in attendance at the fair, encouraging people to take an online survey and help in the development of St. Ignace’s Master Plan. The survey can be found online at www.cityofstignace.com by following the City Master Plan and Planning

Commission links.

The number of job seekers who came through the doors was similar to 2016, but Jim Clapperton of Michigan Works said that the feedback they received from the employers was very positive this year.

“I had employers comment within the first 30 minutes that the crop of job seekers was better than the entire job fair last year,” said Mr. Clapperton. “(Employers) said they were impressed with how the job seekers presented themselves, and that they were very professional.”

One of the changes made this year was to move the time frame to 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., allowing high school students to attend after school was dismissed.

“We’ve tried bussing them in in the past, but we would get a lot of students who came just to get out of class,” said Mr. Clapperton. “This year, they had to take the initiative to come on their own, and many of them did just that.”

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