A ‘Talent Team’ forms in New Hampshire
The power of consonant expressions is that they are memorable, and hence more likely to fall into everyday usage. ‘Talent Team’ is one such couplet, implying as it does collaboration, chirpiness, and a drive toward success. The term entered northern New England parlance last week after a meeting at White Mountain Community College in Berlin, NH, where local officials met with BOP recruitment specialist Cathi Litcher (via videoconference) to discuss how to improve the chances that local applicants might land jobs at the soon-to-be-opened FCI-Berlin. Litcher told the group that, on average, only one-tenth of local applicants are eligible to work in a federal prison—mostly due to age restrictions, dints in their credit histories, or other personal issues, I’m guessing—but that a recent push to gather more local personnel for FCI-Macdowell (in West Virginia) “increased local eligibility to 65 percent.” In this case, eligibility means mounting the first hurdle, but regardless, the peeps in Macdowell are hooking up with peeps in Berlin to help them get more local people ready to apply. The community college in Berlin plans to bring a trainer up from West Virginia to guide applicants through the “complicated and convoluted process,” according Mark Belanger, who heads the employment office in Berlin. Those workshops will culminate with students submitting their application online. Belanger said he sees people checking out the bulletin board devoted to jobs at FCI-Berlin, “but this prison has been talk for so many years that people turn a deaf ear to it.” He tries to tell them that it is finally happening for real.
Asked if Berlin, like other parts of the country, is seeing the stirrings of economic recovery, he paused. “No, it’s awful.” He cited the trend of heavy industries hiring back workers once they start getting orders in. “But the North Country economy is different than the rest of the nation. Here, we don’t have companies that laid people off. They closed, they’re gone. What companies do we have to hire people back? None.” A stark glimpse into why prisons come to places like Berlin, and are even welcomed.