During the aftermath of this summer's catastrophic Souris River flooding, Granite Springs Water and Ice managers found themselves scrambling to find enough people to keep the business operational.
"It's been real challenging finding bodies," said manager Mike Morelli.
In stepped students from the Quentin Burdick Job Corps Center, who have been working regular shifts at the water bottling company since earlier this fall. It was just one of the businesses that benefited from assistance from Job Corps staff, said Edna Sailor, work-based learning coordinator and business and community liaison for the Burdick Job Corps Center. Sailor met with business partners to determine their employment needs and the center prioritized its flood response to assisting businesses and industry to remain open during the recovery process.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • Burdick Job Corps Center student Gary Gunderson bottles water this past week at Granite Springs.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • Quentin Burdick Job Corps Center student Thomas Pinkney bottles water at Granite Springs this past week.
Other businesses that received employee help are Behm's Enterprises, Westlie Motor Company, Westlie Truck Center and Toyota and Muus Lumber Company.
Two of the student-employees at Granite Springs are Thomas Pinkney, 19, from Rolette, and Gary Gunderson, 20, from Minnesota, both studying the welding trade at the center. Eight other students have worked there as time permitted, though the work experience is now winding down and will be finished for the year this week.
Job Corps students were evacuated from Minot during the flood, though the center itself didn't flood. Pinkney said he watched news coverage of the flood from his home in Rolette and has been aware of the devastation it caused when he looks at the neighborhoods surrounding the Job Corps Center that are filled with gutted homes and businesses and boarded up windows.
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Both Pinkney and Gunderson said they and their fellow students were glad to help out at Granite Springs and keep the business operating.
Getting water to people working on flood recovery efforts has been a vital need the past few months.
"Our kids were fully aware of the impact," said Sailor.
Morelli said the help from the Job Corps students came just when things seemed to be at their worst.
Granite Springs had to shut down production for a month following the flood and when they were back up and running, they were short on employees.
"At the time we were just panicked," said Morelli. "We said we'll take 10 or 15 kids if we can get them."
The student workers are paid the going rate and have been model employees, said Morelli.
"They're very good workers," said Morelli. "They're very good kids, they're all on the straight and narrow and mind their p's and q's ... they're real easy, low maintenance."
The students have helped with the assembly line work, filling water jugs and bottles, sticking them on pallets and boxing them up and also filling bags of ice. Students can't deliver water and ice since they don't have commercial drivers licenses, but some of them have gone along on delivery trips and helped roll the water and ice into businesses.
Granite Springs delivers across northwest North Dakota, said Morelli.
Sailor said students from the Job Corps Center also helped with other flood relief efforts such as sandbagging, nursing home evacuation, dike removal, food truck delivery, and flood benefits.