Last Thursday was a sad day in Nucla for many people. The New Horizon Mine, a major employer of folks in the West End, shut down for good. Fifteen people lost their jobs, and four more are set to lose theirs also, as the mine’s final paperwork wraps up in the next few months.
To commemorate the day and honor those that had worked there throughout the years, a barbecue meal was served, along with a cake that had the words “Thank you and good luck.”
In addition to the employees who were losing their jobs, some retirees came for the finale. Others from Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s Nucla plant were also in attendance.
Additionally, representatives from Colorado Workforce and also Carla Reams, who is the spokesperson for Skillful, were also on site. Skillful is the program established by the Markle Foundation and Telluride Foundation, which seeks to help individuals find work in a changing economy with support through various means, like resume-writing assistance and more.
Reams, who worked in human resources for San Miguel Power Association for more than 20 years, said she feels she can help those left by the mine. And, she says she has the heart for it. She knows most every person at the New Horizon Mine; her dad, Dallas Turner, also worked there for years.
She said some of the workers were close to retirement, and many of those people chose to end their careers altogether. She said anyone who had put in a substantial amount of time with the mine received a severance package. A few others, she said, will relocate. According to her, employees who want to stay on with Tri-State (the owner of the mine) can move to another town like Craig, and remain employed.
But, she agreed, for some who have children in local schools, own property, or who just don’t want to leave their hometown, they’re trying to figure it out.
Reams is working to get people to stay.
“They get pulled out of this area, so economic devastation continues, and my focus is to keep people here,” Reams said.
Already, she’s helped some of the mine’s employees write new resumes. She’s also helped connect them with possible jobs, and spoken to potential employers on their behalf. She’s also aiming to help some of them prepare for interviews.
She’s helped a few work on their commercial driver’s license, so they can continue to operate heavy equipment in the local area. She said she’s now working to convince one person to open a food business, since he has the skill and talent to do so.
“The guy is an excellent cook,” Reams said. “I’m trying to find ideas for them, too, if they want to find a business or open one.”
Reams said everyone she’s trying to help has been receptive to her.
“I know most of the people and have a relationship trying to support them,” she said. “I know them personally, most everyone of them personally, and their talents.”
Already, representatives from Colorado Workforce have been to the Nucla plant to help some of the employees there prepare for what is coming. Reams said she’s already spoken with Regan Snyder, plant support specialist, and is also working to visit the plant within the next month to see who’s now interested in assistance from Skillful.
Reams said while the program is focused on the Tri-State employees at the mine and plant, anyone is welcome to seek her services.