Federal budget woes prompted the 2017 closure of the Bitterroot Valley’s state-run Job Service office on Oct. 20.
Job Service offices in Anaconda, Dillon and Lewistown were also closed.
According to Scott Eychner, the Workforce Services administrator for the Montana Department of Labor, 16 employees were affected.
Jake Troyer, the Department of Labor’s spokesman, noted that since 2002, the federal Workforce Services Division’s federal funding has plummeted 55 percent, from $33 million to $15 million. Closing the four offices is expected to save $800,000.
Wolf Ametsbichler, the manager for Missoula Job Services, led the transition. His team established what services to cut or supplement, then listened to what people said they need from Job Service. The Missoula group then developed a plan to address the needs in the Bitterroot Valley for a population that may not have a vehicle to drive to Missoula for services, or internet access.
Bitterroot Job Service Manager Vickie Steele, a 25-year employee, retired.
Since Nov. 6, Job Service has been available four 10-hour days each week, with two of those days in Hamilton.
DeLynn Gardner, a 15-year employee at the Hamilton Job Service, and Fran Krieger, a two-year Hamilton employee, provide Job Service aid in Hamilton on Mondays and Thursdays, from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the Human Resource Council, 201 No. Third St., and 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Bitterroot College, 103 So. Ninth St.
Gardner, Krieger and the staff at Job Service Missoula are eager to help people from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Missoula.
All of the staff are trained in the variety of programs Job Services offers including updating resumes, teaching interview skills, administering grants that help improve job skills, and matching job seekers with employers’ needs.
Job seekers are encouraged to make appointments for the most effective assistance by calling Gardner or Krieger at 728-7060. Job postings can be viewed online at employmissoula.com.
Public computers are available for job seekers at Bitterroot College, Bitterroot Public Library, Corvallis High School Library, North Valley Public Library, and Darby Community Public Library.
Job Services customers are people looking for employment and business owners wanting to post jobs.
Stevensville resident Mike Williams is currently one of the supervisors at the Missoula Job Service. On Tuesday, Williams said Ametsbichler has retired and the Job Service changes are going well.
“Everything is moving forward,” he said. “We’re continuing to build those business contacts - it takes time to build those relationships. Gardner and Krieger have been in the Bitterroot Valley for a while and are indispensable.”
Williams said Job Service has had some big changes this year but is running smoothly.
“It is different, doing as well, and we’re always trying to make it better,” he said. “We’re getting feedback to see what else we can do.”
William said he didn’t have a specific number of the volume of clients but that they serve many individuals.
“For numbers, we are very busy in both locations,” he said.