Job center begins its mission Layoffs still a shock in Baltimore Co.

February 16, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Robert B. McArtor, 22, started work on a surveying crew for the Baltimore County Public Works Department just three years ago.

Catherine Drayton, 56, spent the last 15 years developing her expertise as the county's day care licensing official.

They were both among the laid-off Baltimore County workerwho began trickling into the county's new job placement center yesterday, looking for help in putting their lives back together.

Mr. McArtor said he's taking the layoff from his $20,000-a-year job as an opportunity to move in new directions, a chance to get into auctioning antiques, for which he's also had training.

"This is going to force me to get on the ball," he said. Like the other early birds yesterday, Mr. McArtor said he didn't want to wait to get started on his job search.

But many of the 392 workers who got pink slips Thursday were well along in their careers. Mrs. Drayton said she had only two more years to go before she qualified for a pension and described the news of her layoff as "awful."

"I'm single. I'm not as calm as I look," she said.

Mrs. Drayton's firing came after some years of confusion about whether the county or the state should control day care licensing, her specialty. Still, she was surprised and shocked that she would be fired after years of service.

Ruth Deshong, director of a coalition of nonprofit day care centers in the eastern part of the county, agreed. She said Mrs. Drayton's loss is a big one for them. "She was the one we went to to solve problems," Mrs. Deshong said.

Starting today, the bulk of the workers who got their notices are scheduled to come in for group orientation sessions in the new center at the Galleria Towers at York and Seminary Roads.

After three days of group sessions, the effort will turn to helping individuals -- some still in shock -- deal with personal and financial problems as they struggle to find new jobs.

One senior county worker's hands visibly shook as he talked yesterday about his fate. He quickly retreated as television cameras arrived and did not want to be publicly identified.

Stefanie Farina, 31, a business administration graduate of Towson State, had worked seven years as a county budget analyst and thought she had a career. "I thought I'd retire from there," she said.

She said her husband's job will see them and their 1-year-old son through.

Joseph Pearce, 32, had been working in the Permits and Licensing Department for three years. He said he and his wife were planning on buying a home this spring, but those plans are now on hold.

He was a victim of the recession once before, he said, when he was laid off from a private surveying crew working for a builder who went bankrupt.

The placement center was just getting organized yesterday as workmen installed doors, wallpapered hallways and fiddled with new computers and fax machines.

John M. Wasilisin, administrator of the county's Office of Employment and Training, said the center will offer state unemployment applications, answer questions about the credit union, retirement and other issues regarding the layoffs.

Already, he said, several companies have contacted the county looking for skilled workers, and the county will advertise as some private companies have done on behalf of their former workers looking for jobs.

Individually, the office staff of 12 will help laid-off workers prepare resumes, fax them free of charge to area companies, match job skills with those used by hundreds of local employers in a computer job bank, and offer free phones and a place to trade information with other county workers.

Later this month, the center will offer sessions in dealing with personal problems such as stress, anger or depression, as well as money management.

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