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Archive for Monday, October 15, 2007

Grant helps Greensburg residents find jobs rebuilding hometown

October 15, 2007

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— Some residents of Greensburg who needed a job after the May 4 tornado have found work that lets them help their town recover while they get their lives back together.

More than 70 Greensburg residents have found work under a $20 million National Emergency Disaster Recovery Grant, filling jobs ranging from manual labor to working in the school district to clerical work.

The program has helped drop Kiowa County's unemployment rate from a record 11.7 percent in May to 7.6 percent in August. September's numbers were not available.

The jobs not only help the economy but give hope to the people whose lives were turned upside down by the tornado, which destroyed 95 percent of the town.

"Employment gives people an opportunity to have some pride in the fact that they are accomplishing something for the community," said Ron White, project coordinator for the grant.

One of those people is Amber Boyles, who found a job helping other people find jobs. She and her husband, Eric, were about to buy a new home and have Amber leave her job in Dodge City to stay home with the couple's two children when the tornado changed all those plans. Boyles said the federal grant job program came at just the right time.

"This was an opportunity for me to stay here, help my family and clean up the town," she said.

The third-generation Greensburg resident said the jobs have helped some people discover talents or opportunities they never had before.

And while Greensburg's residents are finding work, the town's business sector is also slowly recovering. A recent survey of the business community found that 22 businesses have either reopened or planned to reopen, said Jeanette Siemens, Kiowa County economic development director.

"There is still business going on in Greensburg," she said. "There were some businesses not too badly damaged and others who have just been creative in getting reopened."

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