By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
About this time each year, Workforce Solutions of Central Texas staffers don costumes at a luncheon to present awards to high-achieving clients and organizations for their support in bringing people and jobs together.
More than 350 business leaders, public officials and others gathered at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center Friday to see guest dignitaries Jimmie Don Aycock, state representative of Killeen, and Texas Workforce Commission Executive Director Larry Temple of Austin join WSCT Executive Director Susan Kamas to hand out 18 honors as highlights of a play titled "Mystery of the Jewel Encrusted EyeBerry" written and performed by WSCT staff.
WSCT is one of 28 regional affiliates of the TWC, whose administration was decentralized several years ago to facilitate local partnerships.
Topping the honors were the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. John Idoux for his support of educational initiatives and community cooperation and the Workforce System Volunteer of the Year award to former WSCT board chair Jim Granfor of Materials Transportation Co. in Temple for building community partnerships.
Both were nominated by WSCT board chairman Larry Anglin.
Six persons received awards for Excellence in Workforce Achievement for working with the WSCT in lifting themselves from difficult situations to rise to high-paying technical or managerial positions, often with the aid of retraining. They were Ben Cockerham, Elizabeth Kimball, Valerie Lowrey, D'Ann Pace, Wanda Scruggs and Ashton Wallace.
The Business of the Year award was shared by L-3 Vertex Aerospace for a high number of hires of displaced workers and disabled veterans and Professional Contract Services Inc., for employing large numbers of hard-to-place workers including ex-offenders.
The Workforce Preparation Award went to the Texas State Technical College Center for Assessment for its work with laid-off workers of the Alcoa plant at Rockdale.
The Business Supporting Families award went to the Communities in Schools Child Development Center for assisting families with very young children as they receive training and search for jobs.
Temple College and Scott & White Hospital and Clinics received Outstanding Youth Training Site awards for working with youth not only in attaining job-specific skills but in honing workplace disciplines including punctuality, teamwork and respect for authority.
The Centroplex P-20 Regional Council received the award for Partnership for developing methods to help students become workers.
Iris Cunningham of the TSTC student accounting office and Michael Mosqueda and Terri Warren of the Texas Workforce Commission received Professional of the Year awards.
The "Mystery of the Jewel Encrusted EyeBerry" concerned a mythical portable device that archeologists found in the 1830s that kept demanding a password sought unsuccessfully by the likes of Sherlock Holmes. Now "Sam Spade," played by Central Texas Workforce Centers director Jerry Haisler, and "Sammi Spade," played by workforce centers staffer Julie Dockery, are taking a crack at it. At the end, the password turns out to be "talent," the solution to an anagram. Several dozen staff members played parts.
Out of costume, Haisler said, "The award recipients recognized today represent the ability of our seven-county region's communities to work together in this difficult economy. From individuals overcoming substantial obstacles to employment to businesses and educators who have supported retraining and expedited employment, these award recipients exemplify the efforts required to alleviate or minimize the heavier economic fallout in other areas of the state."
Kamas said, "There is much to celebrate this year. Even in a slow economy, we have been able to produce positive results for Central Texas businesses and job seekers. ... Much of this success is due to the unique cooperation and team building between our staff and our region's public officials, community leaders, educators, business owners and talented workforce."
WSCT serves Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, Mills and San Saba counties. Information on offices is available at www.workforcelink.com.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.