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3 Cooks in Prison Honed Creativity with Drab Ingredients–Now Out, Award-Winning Chef And Businessmen

in People 45 views

“There are geniuses in there,” said 2-time James Beard Award winner, Keith Corbin, referring to incarcerated men and their ability to cook with the most lifeless, flavorless ingredients imaginable.

Corbin spent 10 years in prison himself, and combined with his career as an award-winning chef at his restaurant Alta Adams, he knows what it takes to make good food out of anything.

Corbin was profiled in a feature piece at the Guardian that twisted together the stories of several entrepreneurs who launched careers in the food industry after more than a decade of smoking sausages in a toilet with toilet paper, or making tamal dough with ground-up Fritos.

Another of the featured ex-cons was Chef Michael Carter, executive at Down North Pizza in Philidelphia where he employs only formerly incarcerated men, or returning citizens as he called them, and offers them half-way or low-income housing with the apartment building located above his pizza shop.

His pies, mostly square ones, have made the New York Times best pizza list, and won the Best of Philly 2021 category for square pie.

After Carter was released from a 12-year sentence, he took a class for resume writing for food professionals and was asked what experience he had. He replied he had cooked in prison for 2,000—he got a job the next week.

“The mission is actually what made me accept the job,” Carter said, “to be able to have a voice and tell people about the plight in our community of returning citizens.”

It’s something that both Carter and Corbin reported to Sonya Singh at the Guardian—that prison squeezes men, and that squeeze sometimes creates diamonds.

“You have people in there that literally never went to school for technology, but the phone breaks and they’ll figure out how to fix the motherboard,” Corbin said. “There’s geniuses in there, ingenuity.”

Corbin, on the other hand, went into prison with a deep connection to food. His grandmother grew tomatoes and collard greens in their yard, and would wake up at 5 a.m. to start cooking for the working people in her community.

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WorkPlace: Not enough people to fill 3,000 open jobs in Jefferson County

in Employment 184 views

Don’t tell Cheryl A. Mayforth people just don’t want to work anymore.

It’s a remark that gets Mrs. Mayforth, director of the Jefferson County Department of Employment and Training at The WorkPlace, stirred up.

She maintains that the north country’s job market has gone through many changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began three years ago, and that the market was changing before that.

There’s simply not enough people to fill the available jobs, she said. Jefferson County currently has 3,000 job openings without the 3,000 people to fill them.

“Where are the people?” she asked board members of the Watertown Local Development Corp. on Thursday.

During the past 10 years, 10% of the area’s workforce has been lost, she said, attributing much of that to baby boomers leaving the job market for “shorts, sandals and bright-colored shirts” in retirement.

Baby boomers are retiring at the age of 55 because they can afford to do so. Other north country residents are moving away, where they can get the same job but get paid more, she said.

The board of the local development corporation, also known as the Watertown Trust, asked Mrs. Mayforth to attend its meeting on Thursday morning to find out about what’s going on with the local job market and how members can help.

The local restaurant industry has been hit hard by the nation’s labor shortage even after the pandemic, she said.

In late November, she expected that 23 employees laid off from the local Denny’s restaurant would be contacting her office about job prospects for them.

They didn’t.

It was about the same time that Popeyes was looking to fill 60 jobs at its new restaurant, just down the street from Denny’s on outer Arsenal Street, she said.

And Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse and other restaurants along Arsenal Street’s restaurant row continue to have hiring signs hanging in their windows.

But the Chick-fil-A got the job done when the restaurant opened — between the old Denny’s and new Popeyes along Watertown’s restaurant row — in late October.

The franchise owner needed to fill 134 jobs for the new Chick-fil-A. They did so by hiring people from outside of the area, and paying shift supervisors $23 an hour, she said, calling it “moving up the ladder.”

“They know what they’re doing,” she said.

Businesses throughout the area’s job sectors, such as the health care industry, are also having hiring issues, she said.

Nurses are going out the back door at a higher rate than nurses entering the front door. That’s happening at the same time area nursing training programs are at full capacity, Mrs. Mayforth said.

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Operation Community Hearts: Drive beginning for deployed soldiers, Fort Drum families

in Charity/Employment/People 337 views

WATERTOWN — In the communities around Fort Drum, an effort is underway to provide support for military children and families, along with their loved ones overseas.

Teddy bears will be gathered for children left at home, while supplies, gifts and written letters will be collected and shipped to soldiers overseas.

Operation Community Hearts is the revamping of an effort from years ago that began with a then preteen Gavin E. Moran, who started a teddy bear drive at his family’s duty station of Fort Hood, Texas, as a bar mitzvah service project. This time, the efforts are headed by his parents Crystal D. and Allen G. Moran, with help from his brother Hunter A. Moran, local businesses, and Gavin himself from states away.

“Because it touched his life so much, he wanted to do something for military kids,” Mrs. Moran said of the origins of the drive Gavin began. “His father was deployed a lot, at least four times on main deployments to Afghanistan or Iraq, and then multiple tours that were just like regular training missions. My son received a teddy bear that he named Teddy when he was really little, given to him by his father, and it became his comfort when his dad was gone. He tapped into that, issued this project, and asked me for help.”

Mrs. Moran, who now works in distribution at the Times, recalls not knowing what to do the first time around. But now she knows how to get the project rolling. In Fort Hood, the family contacted news outlets to get the word out and found places to collect. Organizations and businesses allowed the family to place collection boxes at their sites. They gathered roughly 500 bears when the family was at Fort Hood.

As distribution got underway, Gavin did lots of talking and reaching out to people, Mrs. Moran said. When his father returned to the U.S., the family relocated to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where the second phase of the drive began. With some bears left over from the Fort Hood collection, they wanted to figure out a way to distribute them out to the community again, so Mrs. Moran and Gavin shared their idea with the community.

“We had the same reception, a lot of businesses wanted to get on board,” Mrs. Moran said. “By the time this whole thing was done, he had collected a thousand bears, it was pretty big. At that point, it reached a national level where a lot of people got information about what was going on.”

Gavin is now 25 and living in a different state than his family, but he still wants to be part of the drive.

This revamped drive will bring back his original teddy bear focus and add care packages for deployed soldiers and support for families. The project is in its early stages. The goal now is to spread the word and gather volunteers and donations.

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‘Summer Fridays’ Are the Key to Feeling Happier at Work

in Employment/Health 370 views

A new poll suggests “Summer Fridays” are the key to feeling happier at work.

Fifty-nine percent of 2,000 working adults surveyed revealed their jobs offer “Summer Fridays”—being allowed a short day or day off on occasional Fridays during the season.

Over eight in 10 employees say they benefit from this perk because it makes them feel much happier at work (85%).

The survey, commissioned by Wisetail and conducted by OnePoll, delved into the impact weather may have on productivity—finding that 73% believe it directly impacts how they work.

Respondents claimed that cool temperatures (28%) and clear blue skies (27%) are associated with being the most productive at work, coinciding with 43% who believe they do their best work in the spring.

It’s no surprise, then, that 65% prefer working outside when the weather is nice—from getting work done in local cafés (53%) to rooftops (48%) and patios (48%).

Employees shared what weather factors can make them have a bad day at their jobs—with conditions like heavy rain (25%) and freezing temperatures (25%) being the root cause of unproductive workdays. Meanwhile, 22% associate snow with having a bad day at work.

Overall, 68% said the motivation to learn or absorb information at work drops when the weather is poor.

Nearly as many (67%) will turn the brightness of their computer screens down if it’s gray or darker outside and 64% said they have to take frequent breaks away from their computer screens when there’s overcast.

Poor weather conditions are enough for 63% to believe it’s excusable for them to take more time completing their work tasks.

Time is also a factor in people’s productivity. In order to have the “best day” at work, the average person needs to wake up at 7:30 a.m, while rising an hour later at 8:30 a.m. would be considered the “worst” way to start off the day.

Sixty-four percent noted that daylight saving had affected their productivity in the past, with a majority (85%) saying they feel unproductive when the clock changes.

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Jobs in US Green Economy Grew to 6% of Total Employment in 2020

in Employment 276 views

A new report shows that the percentage of jobs in the U.S. that fall under the category “green” has increased over the last 50 years to 9 million, or 6% of the total workforce.

This number is not only set to exponentially rise to 24 million, or 14% of total workforce over the next 10 years, but is already underestimated in most private and public employment data.

The report was prepared by Working Nation, a non-profit aimed at educating people about job trends to help influence positive outcomes for the workers of the future.

Using a simple definition for “green economy” and “green jobs” gave Working Nation a metric that was neither on the high end or low end of existing job count estimates, and one that matched other metrics used in inter-industry job tracking reports.

Most green jobs in the green economy, the report found, are actually quite typical jobs that don’t represent actual solar-panel installation, for example—but often fall under roles in, say, accountancy or engineering, for green economy firms or production.

The future of the green economy in the report was all the more striking. Two separate research/data collection/data analysis services prepared forecasts of the green economy under the parameters set by Working Nation and found that the green economy over the next eight years will grow at sixteen times the nationwide job creation rate.

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Recovering addicts to get help finding work

in Local News/People 351 views

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – A program aimed at helping find work for people recovering from addiction now has the funding it needs to get off the ground.

Anchor Recovery Center of Northern New York received $56,000 from the city Watertown last week.

It’s a grant which is part of the 2020 ‘Cares Act’ from the federal government. The Cares Act distributed billions of dollars across the country in response to an economy damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anchor Recovery’s new leader says the program involves The Workplace of Jefferson County, and Community Action Planning Council. The goal is to get people in recovery a job, and bring on a ‘case worker’ as a line of communication between employee and employer.

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Plenty of jobs available as we head into the holiday season

in Employment 348 views

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – As we head into the holiday season, a local job expert says there’s plenty of seasonal and permanent work out there.

Cheryl Mayforth from the Jefferson County Workplace says there is a 9-1 ratio for job openings to job seekers, giving laborers more choices for where they want to work.

Mayforth says a lot of the current jobs are seasonal, but says those can turn into permanent positions. And she expects more job opportunities to become available with Canada easing border restrictions.

“Canadian shoppers can come back and forth with somewhat ease. Business is going to pick up and we certainly, for those looking for jobs, you should be able to find one,” said Mayforth.

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