$500,000 will aid ex-casino employees

Help is on the way to the 1,000+ workers who lost their jobs when the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino was shut-down Oct. 10.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) is providing the Madera County Workforce Investment Board a $500,000 grant to assist those who lost their jobs.

It is estimated that about 600 of the workers are residents of Madera County, and of that number, 250 live in Eastern Madera County.

“The sudden closure of this important business severely impacted more than 1,000 people who are suddenly without work, and many others whose jobs were dependent on the casino,” said EDD Director Patrick W. Henning, Jr. “This grant will provide needed employment resources, such as retraining, resume writing classes, interview preparation, and job search services that will help them secure new jobs as quickly as possible.”

Although the additional funds from the state are not expected for trickle-down to the county for several weeks, the Workforce Investment Board is already assisting the unemployed workers with current funding, according to Elaine Craig, Workforce executive director. Workforce Job Centers are located in Madera (441 E. Yosemite Ave.) and Oakhurst (40325 Highway 41), although the Oakhurst Center, operates on a limited basis - Monday and Friday, 1-5 p.m. - Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 8 a.m. - noon.

The grant will fund efforts to prepare the laid-off workers to seek new employment in pone of the region’s leading industry sectors, including agri-business, tourism, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation, and renewable/alternative energy.

Funding for the program is drawn from the governor’s 25 percent portion of Dislocated Worker Funds from Title 1 of the federal Workforce Investment Act, and is under the administrative authority of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency’s EDD.

The Madera County Workforce Investment Board will collaborate with area adult schools, community colleges, and employers to provide skills upgrade courses, and on-the-job vocational training.

Some job training will take place at the Oakhurst Community College.

The casino remains closed following a federal judges orders that forced the casino closed after an attempted takeover ended with hotel patrons vacating the building leaving behind money, casino chips and other personal items. More than 15 people were arrested for their involvement in the takeover and are not awaiting trial.

Details: Madera County Workforce Investment Board, (559) 662-4500, Oakhurst Job Center, (559) 683-6263.

- Staff Report