Fifty new Tennessee Department of Transportation workers are going through training this week in Scott County. All were hired with funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
On April 8, Governor Phil Bredesen announced the plan to use the stimulus money to put 150 Scott County residents back to work. A third of those positions were highway maintenance jobs with TDOT. The county has one of the state's highest unemployment rates, at 18.3 percent in March.
Scott County resident, Jody Newport, is among the TDOT employees in training. "I see this as an open door and I hope to turn it into more than a temporary thing," Newport said. "I'm hoping my qualifications will make a difference."
According to a TDOT press release, Newport is a husband, father of three and guardian to his two young nieces. The 35 year old lost his job a little more than a year ago, but he used his unemployment to seek an education as an electrician. "I've taken some classes and I've done my best to make money the best way I could," Newport said as he described odd jobs he has used to make ends meet.
Next week, the 50 newly hired employees will begin their work in district 14 which includes Scott, Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne and Union Counties. The highway maintenance workers will help to pick up litter, clear brush, clear out culverts, paint, and perform other maintenance duties in and around the TDOT facilities.