News ’n Views
Volume 6, Issue 1
Center at LR moves, holds open house
The center, which moved to 5401 S. University, now houses the Employment Services, Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Investment Act programs.
“All of the Workforce Center partners are together again at one location, allowing us to better assist central Arkansas residents who are looking for jobs or want to make a career change,” said DWS Director Artee Williams.
Besides center staff, local politicians including Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola attended the open house. A ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce also was held.
In addition to DWS and the Little Rock Workforce Investment Board, which oversees the WIA services, other center partners include the Central Arkansas Development Council, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas Rehabilitation Services and Little Rock Adult Education.
About 150 staff work at the center and provide services including employment and unemployment insurance services, dislocated worker services, services to veterans, Transitional Employment Assistance, utility assistance, Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps) assistance, rehabilitation services, adult education services and Arkansas Career Readiness Certificate assessments.
The center has 56 self-service computers clients can use to apply for services, Pell Grants or to prepare resumes. There also are an additional 48 computers used for training and CRC assessments.
Photo Cutline: OPEN HOUSE — The Arkansas Workforce Center at Little Rock held an open house recently. Local politicians, including Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, attended. The center, which houses the Employment Services, Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Investment Act programs, relocated to 5401 S. University.
Pat Hamilton returns to DWS
Job with State Department sends him around world with stop in Iraq
When Pat Hamilton, now an assistant controller in the Financial Management unit, retired from the Department of Workforce Services seven years ago, little did he know his new career would eventually land him in a war zone.
Hamilton retired from DWS in September 2002 as the assistant director for Financial Management to pursue a career as a federal financial foreign service officer for the U.S. State Department.
Hamilton said he liked adventure and always loved to travel, so the job with the State Department was a great opportunity.
After spending two months in Washington, D.C., for training, Hamilton’s first assignment was in Charleston, S.C., where he worked two years at the Regional Financial Center, which provided support for the Western Hemisphere.
Hamilton then spent two months in Bangkok, Thailand, and landed his first permanent international assignment at the American Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, in South America.
Hamilton said he and his wife, Brenda, loved Quito, which is a Spanish-speaking country. The communication barrier, however, proved to be a little difficult at first.
“I didn’t know how to call a taxi or a plumber,” Hamilton said. “If we got the plumber there, we didn’t know how to tell him what to do.”
While in Quito, Hamilton lived in an apartment located on an active volcano - Pichincha. Although ash would blow out some of the time, no lava flowed.
“It would rumble some,” he said. “I almost got shaken out of bed one night.”
While Hamilton’s wife worked with missionaries, he managed a $13 to $14 million budget, which included payroll, paying the bills and procurement.
Many of the modern conveniences from home were there as well, including American banks and restaurants, such as Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s and Burger King.
After completing his time in Quito, Hamilton said the State Department wanted him to return to the United States. The department had installed a new accounting system and needed him to train staff in Asia, Central America, Europe and Africa.
Hamilton said he would travel for two to three weeks and would then be back for two to three weeks. After one year, Hamilton said he had been to 20 countries.
It was his final international assignment, however, that proved to be the most dangerous. A friend of Hamilton’s was finishing up his assignment in Baghdad, Iraq, and convinced Hamilton to replace him. The State Department has a mandatory retirement policy at age 65. Hamilton had only one year left before retiring and decided to head to the war zone.
“I was tired of traveling,” Hamilton said about his previous assignment.
Hamilton, one for quite an adventure, also knew the pay for going to Baghdad would be excellent.
It was the 40 pounds of protective equipment that included a helmet and steel-plated, bulletproof vest that really got his attention, though.
“That’s kind of when you start to wonder, ‘What am I doing here?’” he said.
After flying to Jordan, the U.S. military then transported Hamilton aboard a C130 cargo plane to Baghdad. From there, he was put on a metal-plated bus called a Rino with other American workers and taken to the Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy was located.
Hamilton’s office was located in one of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard palaces. Chandeliers still hung in the offices and marble floors were throughout the building.
Hamilton’s living arrangements, however, were quite different. In Quito, Hamilton rented a 3,000 square-foot penthouse apartment. In Baghdad, Hamilton lived in a FEMA trailer not much bigger than an office, not to mention the difference in scenery.
“The part of the city I was in, there weren’t any places that hadn’t been hit,” he said. “It was just destroyed.”
Hamilton went from working 40 hours a week in Quito with a staff of 14 and a multi-million dollar budget to working 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week in Baghdad with an almost unlimited budget and, at one point, only one other staff person.
“Nobody wanted to come there, for one thing,” he said.
Because Iraq’s banking system had been destroyed, Iraqi money was of no value. American money was used, and money transfers were done the old fashioned way.
“The only way to move money was to carry cash,” Hamilton said.
Besides giving money to pilots who delivered it to the proper destination, Hamilton also oversaw the condolence payments to families of Iraqis accidentally killed. He also monitored the transfer of funds to the Regional Response Teams located all over Iraq. Money was given to the teams to provide educational and health services for the Iraqis and to rebuild the infrastructure.
“Everyday something would come up that you never heard before,” he said.
Although being in the Green Zone was a lot safer, danger did lurk nearby.
“You never went out of the Green Zone unless it was absolutely necessary,” he said. “When you did, you had to wear your protective gear and were escorted by security personnel in three armored SUVs.”
When Hamilton did have to travel, it literally seemed like a foreign country to him.
“A lot of times you didn’t know where you were,” he said. “You just hoped the driver did.”
Hamilton said the second week he was there 30 mortar rounds came into the zone one night. Because the bunkers were eight to 10 seconds away, “you just put your gear on and lay on the floor,” he said.
The climate also was totally different. In the summer, Hamilton said it did not rain much, and the temperature would reach 125 degrees. Fortunately for him, though, his office and trailer had air conditioning.
Being in Iraq did have its good moments, though. Hamilton said the food was great, and he even put on about 10 pounds while he was there. He was given a cell phone with unlimited calling, so he could talk to his wife back in the United States everyday. He also met her in Jordan at one point, and they toured Jordan and Israel.
All-in-all, Hamilton spent 13 months in Baghdad. After returning to the United States, the State Department asked him to postpone his retirement for five months to work in Charleston.
After his time in South Carolina came to an end, Hamilton felt it was time to come home. Once he retired from the federal government, he returned to Arkansas and came back to work at DWS. Hamilton now works on special projects and reports for the controller’s office.
Several things have changed since Hamilton last worked for DWS, one of which being the name change from the Employment Security Department to the Department of Workforce Services. Also, when Hamilton left DWS, the agency’s budget was $250 million. Now, partly due to stimulus funds, DWS’ budget has grown to $1.6 billion.
Now that he’s had his adventure and is back, Hamilton said he has no plans to leave DWS anytime soon. If he really wants to do something, Hamilton said he stays with it for a while.
“I’m happy to be back here,” he said. “DWS is a great place to work.”
Photo Cutline: Pat Hamilton
Photo Cutline: WAR ZONE — Pat Hamilton poses in his bulletproof vest and helmet the night before leaving for Iraq.
Three employers honored for hiring mature workers
The Arkansas Workforce Investment Board and Department of Workforce Services partnered with the Governor’s Work-Life Balance Initiative for the second year in a row to recognize three Arkansas employers for their dedication to hiring and retaining mature workers (those age 50+).
Bank of the Ozarks, which won the Mature Worker Friendly Award for a second year, the Arkansas Educational Television Network at Conway and Saline Memorial Hospital at Benton were honored this year at a ceremony held at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock.
“All three companies recognize the need to keep mature workers in the workforce,” said DWS Director Artee Williams. “Their leadership is evident in their policies and practices that ensure a work-friendly environment for Arkansas’ older population.”
The Mature Worker Friendly Award is one of several awards given out at the annual Governor’s Work-Life Balance Awards, which are presented each year to employers who have policies and practices in place to help employees balance the needs of both work and family.
Because Arkansas and the rest of the nation will experience a huge labor shortage in the next 10 years as the baby boomers retire, the AWIB partnered with AARP and other agencies in 2006 to create the Arkansas Mature Worker Initiative. The initiative is an awareness campaign designed to educate employers about the need to keep mature workers in the workforce and to connect them to mature workers through the Arkansas Workforce Centers.
“Mature workers are a valuable resource to employers in Arkansas and across the country,” Williams said. “They are dedicated, loyal and reliable.”
Initiative activities include presentations to employer organizations, participation at job fairs and the development of the mature worker awards. Because of initial efforts, Arkansas was selected by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices as one of eight states to participate in a policy academy to explore ways to keep the mature population in the workforce or active through volunteerism.
The year-long policy academy resulted in ideas for future outreach efforts, which will include a tool kit for employers, a Web site for mature adults and training for agency staff.
Photo Cutline: MATURE WORKER AWARDS — Gov. Mike Beebe presents the Mature Worker Friendly Award at the Governor’s Work-Life Balance Awards ceremony recently at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock. Pictured with Beebe are the winners: George Gleason, CEO and chairman of the board at Bank of the Ozarks (top left photo); Tony Brooks, deputy executive director and COO at the Arkansas Educational Television Network (top right photo); and Randy Fortner, CEO at Saline Memorial Hospital (bottom right photo).
Seven DWS employees receive APAC honors
Seven Department of Workforce Services employees recently received management certificates from the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium.
The consortium is part of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Institute of Government and is a cooperative program of UALR, Arkansas State University at Jonesboro and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
APAC provides training and education for managers and leaders from the public and nonprofit sectors.
The Arkansas Governmental Manager Program is the state certification of the Certified Public Manager Program and requires the completion of six two-day courses and a project plan.
The AGM program also is one of the prerequisites for the DWS Leadership Development Program, an 18-month program that enhances management skills acquired through AGM.
AGM graduates include Jammel McCuien with the Dislocated Worker-Trade Adjustment Assistance unit.
The Certified Public Manager Program is the national certification. Individuals must first complete the AGM program and then complete five additional two-day courses, 146 contact hours and successfully pass a national test.
CPM graduates are Delores Hall, Belinda Hodges, Shirley Johnson and Brian Pulliam, all with the Occupational Career Information unit, Sharon Stringer with the Transitional Employment Assistance and Work Pays programs at Blytheville and Donna Westbrook with the TEA program at Forrest City.
Photo Cutline: APAC HONORS — Seven Department of Workforce Services employees received management certificates recently from the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium: (front, l to r) Donna Westbrook, Belinda Hodges and Brian Pulliam; (back, l to r) Sharon Stringer, Delores Hall, Shirley Johnson and Jammel McCuien.
Stand-Alone Photo Cutline: CEREAL DRIVE — Doris Martin (l to r), Essie Courtney, Luvenia Ross and Gladys Canady from the Ground Floor in the Central Office, stand next to the 264 boxes of cereal the Ground Floor collected for the 10th Annual Summer Cereal Drive sponsored by Today’s THV for the Arkansas Food Bank Network. The Central Office collected 712 boxes and 585 pounds of cereal and cereal items for the cause. The Ground Floor collected the most cereal and was recognized with a pizza party.
New unit investigates UI wage fraud cases
To streamline unemployment insurance fraud investigations, DWS created a new unit called Fraud Investigations, Recoveries and Enforcement, or FIRE.
In the past, the Benefit Payment Control and Automated Adjudication System units investigated all potential unemployment insurance fraud cases. These included cases where people receiving UI benefits reported that they were able and available for work when they were not, or they reported no wages earned when actually they had earned money.
The FIRE unit now handles the investigations of all wage-related fraud cases from the beginning through prosecution.
The creation of the new unit, which handles fraud cases involving more than $1,300, gives BPC investigators more time to investigate nonfraud cases or cases that rarely lead to prosecution. It also allows staff to devote more time to work with employers, prosecutors and local office staff to determine whether or not fraud has been committed.
Pat Warbritton, a UI investigator, came up with the idea for the unit as part of her project plan for the DWS Leadership II Program.
New assistant director, managers recently named
Phil Harris was recently named the assistant director for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
“I am pleased to announce that Phil has accepted the director position of the TANF program,” DWS Director Artee Williams said. “He has solid credentials and will be a wonderful addition to our senior management team.”
The TANF program is designed to help needy families become self-sufficient. The program in Arkansas is comprised of Transitional Employment Assistance, Work Pays, the Career Pathways Initiative and the Community Investment Initiative.
Harris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Philander Smith College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
He has served as the TANF project administrator and provided staff support for the TANF Oversight Board since joining DWS in 2007.
Prior to working for DWS, Harris worked in business and economic development at UALR and served as an adjunct faculty member. He has numerous awards and certifications for his work in education and economic development.
Wilma Gill was recently named as area operations chief for Area VII.
As AOC, Gill oversees the management and programs at five local offices: Arkadelphia, Hope, the Hope Migrant Farm Labor Center, Malvern and Texarkana.
She has worked for DWS since Dec. 1, 1976.
Prior to being named as an AOC, Gill was the local office manager at Arkadelphia.
She previously was an unemployment insurance program supervisor at Little Rock and Arkadelphia, a workforce specialist and worked with special programs prior to the creation of the Workforce Investment Act.
In addition to working for DWS, Gill also briefly worked for the Department of Human Services and taught high school in Arkadelphia.
She is a graduate of the Certified Employment Manager Program.
“I was cut out for this job,” she said. “It’s really not about the pay for me; it’s about the customers that we serve.”
Jeff Arens was recently selected as manager of the Rogers office.
Arens has been with DWS for 14 years, starting in the Fayetteville office while attending the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Arens began his career at DWS as an Employment Services interviewer at the Rogers office.
Two years ago, he transferred to the Fayetteville office, where he worked in both the ES and Unemployment Insurance programs prior to being named manager at Rogers.
Other than work, Arens has a commercial pilot license and said he mostly just flies for fun now.
His favorite quote is, “When life gets confusing, stop and listen to the music.”
Amber Mullis was recently selected as manager of the Russellville office.
The Russellville office provides employment-related services for Pope, Conway, Yell, Johnson and Perry counties.
Mullis began working for DWS on March 3 and said she loves her job and is enjoying learning new programs.
“I am blessed to work with some of the best DWS staff in the state,” she said.
Prior to working for DWS, Mullis worked for the Department of Human Services for 31 years. She was a county administrator for Drew County for 21 years and a Yell County administrator prior to coming to DWS.
She has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, received the Director’s Leadership Award for the Division of County Operations at DHS and also was named Woman of the Year by the Drew County Chamber of Commerce.
Mullis said one of her favorite quotes is, “Someone’s good fortune is not your misfortune.” She said it helps you appreciate what you have.
Get in the Game, Workforce Summit set for November
Logos: Get in the Game, Arkansas Workforce Summit
It’s that time again to Get in the Game - the game of entrepreneurism!
For the second year in a row, DWS will host the Get in the Game Entrepreneurial Conference at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
The event, which targets those interested in starting their own business or expanding an existing one, will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 3. Workshops about business planning, startup tips, financing and marketing will be held throughout the day.
“Entrepreneurism is a form of self-employment,” DWS Director Artee Williams said.
More than 50 exhibitors will be on-hand to provide information, and attendees also will have the opportunity to visit with successful entrepreneurs to learn best practices.
In addition to the entrepreneurial conference, DWS is also hosting the Get in the Game Career Expo, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 4.
“With these tough economic times, we also want to take every opportunity to connect employers with job seekers who have the skills required by those employers,” Williams said.
About 50 exhibitors, including employers and education providers, will be at the expo to accept resumes, answer job applicants’ questions, conduct interviews on-site and discuss career education and training opportunities. A mini-Workforce Center also will be on-site to provide resume assistance and interviewing tips.
Finally, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 5, DWS will sponsor the Arkansas Workforce Summit, a one-day conference that promotes the relationship between education, economic development and the workforce.
Employers, community leaders, elected officials, government employees and economic developers are encouraged to attend.
Several workshops, including how to retain Arkansas’ businesses, how to utilize DWS services, apprenticeships and the benefits of hiring mature workers (age 50+), will be held throughout the day.
Stand-Alone Photo Cutline: JOB SHADOWERS — Children and other relatives of Department of Workforce Services employees recently participated in the DWS Job Shadowing Day at the Central Office. This year, the event was limited to eighth-graders and older. About 20 children attended the event. Besides shadowing their relatives, participants toured the building and received information about the Real-Life Arkansas Web site, Stamp Out Smoking program, and other agency programs and services.
DWS receives honor from veterans
The Department of Workforce Services was honored as Employer of the Year recently at the Disabled American Veterans State Convention.
“We are honored to receive this award,” said DWS Director Artee Williams. “Veterans deserve our respect and support, and we are dedicated to meeting their employment needs.”
DWS was selected from many employers statewide for its commitment to hiring veterans and providing necessary tools to assist them in their employment search.
Also at the convention, Russell Cook, the local veterans employment representative at Searcy, received the LVER of the Year award.
Cook assists veterans with finding employment and provides outreach to employers to showcase the value of hiring veterans.
In addition to the awards, several DWS employees were elected to state DAV positions. John Donovan, a former disabled veterans’ outreach program specialist at Conway who now works for the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, was elected senior vice-commander, which is the first in line of succession to the state commander.
Ricky Young, the LVER at Fort Smith, was elected to second junior vice-commander, and Joseph Didden, an LVER at Mountain Home, became the state employment officer.
Photo Cutline: AWARD — Ricky Young, the local veterans’ employment representative at Fort Smith and State Employment Officer for the Disabled American Veterans (left), presents the LVER of the Year award to Russell Cook, an LVER at Searcy (right), at the DAV State Convention held recently.
Stand-Alone Photo Cutline: SUPPORT FOR VETERANS — Jesse Boyd, a local veterans’ employment representative in Russellville (center), and Ricky Young, an LVER at Fort Smith (right), present a letter of appreciation and certificate of support to Johnny Story with River Valley Radio (left) for the station’s continued support of veterans. The awards were sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 27 in Russellville.
News across the state
CENTRAL OFFICE — Jessica Moye, the daughter of Danny and Lynn Moye, attended Girls State at Harding University in Searcy this summer. She is a senior at Lutheran High School in Little Rock.
The Office of Information Services won the 2009 State Employees Coed Softball League and the end of the season tournament held at Benny Craig Field in Little Rock. The league was comprised of teams from various state agencies. DWS team members were Sara Williford in Disbursements and Danny Moye in the Benefit Accuracy Measurement unit.
Andrea Latrice Barksdale, a UI budget specialist, has completed the coursework for her master’s degree in management and leadership from Webster University.
Maurice Porchia, a senior software support analyst in the Information Technology unit, recently graduated from the Leadership Arkansas Program through the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. The program consists of eight leadership development classes from September to June.
Photo Cutline: Maurice Porchia
CONWAY — Kimberly Phillips, the granddaughter of Cindy Phillips, a UI investigator in Conway, had artwork that was selected for display at the Young Arkansas Artists exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center. Kimberly is now a first-grader at Marguerite Vann Elementary School in Conway.
Phillips’ son, Justin Phillips, came home for a visit. He is a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA.
EL DORADO — Adrienne J. Green, the daughter of Lillie L. Green in El Dorado, graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical Center in Little Rock with a doctorate degree in pharmacy.
JONESBORO — Stacey Harvey, a TEA case manager in Jonesboro, chaired the City Youth Ministries Leadership Project, a Jonesboro Jaycees project that teaches leadership skills to teens from low-income families. Harvey has been a member of the Jaycees for five years, has served as vice-president of community development and won several awards.
MONTICELLO — Terence Roberson Jr., the son of Gaye Roberson, an interviewer at Monticello, recently won the 2009 Cutest Baby Contest in his division, 2- to 3-year-old boys, at the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival. He also is the nephew of Kim Jones in Personnel.
Ashlyn Crawford, the daughter of Lindsay Crawford, an interviewer, won the 2009 Cutest Baby Contest in her division, 3- to 4-year-old girls.
Miranda Cox, an interviewer, recently graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management. She also recently married Mike Reynolds.
Mandy Lowry Kinnaird, the daughter of Pam Lowry, an AAS satellite supervisor, recently graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Tamara Paige, the daughter of Gwendolyn Arrington, an interviewer, recently married Herman Riddle at Waukegan, IL.
Lisa Trantham, the daughter of Nancy Trantham, a document examiner, recently married Ben Sheppard at Magnet Cove, AR.
Antonio Wherry, the son of Florence Thomas, an interviewer, recently graduated from ITT-Technical Institute with an associate degree in computer networking.
PINE BLUFF — Janice Roberts, a management project analyst for Employment Assistance, recently graduated from the Leadership Pine Bluff program. The nine-month program helps participants build leadership skills that will benefit Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.
Photo Cutline: Janice Roberts
TeYasha Smith, the granddaughter of Dorothy J. Oliver, with the Training Unit stationed in Pine Bluff, and Walter Oliver, manager of the Little Rock office, recently graduated from McClellan High School.
WALNUT RIDGE — Auggie Wicker, the son of Andrea Wicker, an AAS interviewer in Walnut Ridge, wrote a poem that was chosen by the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English and the Language Arts to be published in the Arkansas Anthology 2009 literary magazine. The magazine features some of the best writing by Arkansas students and their teachers.
Photo Cutline: AWARD — Elizabeth Roberts, manager at the Walnut Ridge office (right), accepts an Outstanding State Employee Award from Judy Beatty, the president of the Arkansas State Employees Association (left), recently at ASEA’s 41st Annual Convention and Awards Banquet held in Hot Springs.
Photo Cutline: AWARD — Janet Edgar, acting manager at the Hot Springs office (left), accepts an award recently from Rick Green, with the Department of Defense (right). The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve recognized the Hot Springs office as a patriotic employer.
Alice Rowe, Management Project Analyst, UI Technical Unit, Dec. 31, 2008
Ann (Harriett) Pottorff, a retired interviewer in El Dorado, died Dec. 21, 2008.