Senator Tester visits SKC job fair

CharKoosta News

by Lailani Upham

PABLO — Over 550 people walked through the Salish Kootenai College Job Fair last week that included over 300 SKC students, 60 high school students, 20 Kicking Horse Job Corps students, and approximately160 community members.

The Job Fair is yearly collaboration hosted by SKC Career Services, Student Support Services, the Indigenous Math and Science Institute (IMSI), and Lake County Job Service. The Job Fair was held last Tuesday at the Joe McDonald Health and Wellness Center.

There were 91 businesses signed up to offer informational booths, according to SKC Career Center data.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., conducted closing remarks that happened to be initiated by his office, according to the SKC career center. “It was days before the fair, we got a call that he was in the area and asked if he could give the closing address,” Terry Cordier, SKC Career Center staff said. The request was quickly affirmed. “We were happy to have him,” she added.

 “This was a great opportunity for representatives from local, state and national organizations to offer full- and part-time employment, summer employment, internships and career opportunities. Participants came from all over Montana; Oregon; Maryland; Virginia; Washington, DC; Colorado; Idaho; and several organizations from Washington state,” Cordier stated.

Sen. Tester’s visit included a chat in the new SKC Boardroom with Marine Lance Cpl. Tomy Parker. Parker was due to depart for the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California the following day.

Sen. Tester addressed students, faculty and community members at the SKC Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre on jobs in Indian Country. He told the students they were future of our nation and thanked those who came out to the job fair. He urged students to take on all the opportunities offered.

Tester spoke on decisions to made by Congress that it would be difficult when it came to spending cuts.

He explained the situation in reference to farm work and equipment. He described the strategy of keeping the budget going as “grease” is to functional equipment. “You have to have good equipment, and you have to keep it greased,” Tester said. “We can cut spending and the debt, but you can’t cut the grease that keeps everything running.”

When it comes to running a successful farm operation it takes “good equipment, good soil, long days and hard work: it’s not much different in the economy,” Tester said.

“As a farmer, I know you can’t spend more than you have, and I know you can’t just plant seeds and assume everything will turn out fine, either.” Tester told the crowd that in order to strengthen the economy in Montana and in Indian Country, we need to create jobs. “The soil must be prepared, and crops cared for.”

Everyone shares in the “good crop” when jobs are created he said.

Tester said the country is coming out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. “If we screw up this recovery, we’re only going to make it worse.”

The floor was opened up for questions and a student asked about cuts in the educational funding for Pell Grants.

Tester addressed it by saying the U.S. House of Representatives had voted to cut some Pell grant funding, but included that the Senate would have a say before the final decision. Tester reaffirmed that if Pell grants are included in the cuts it would be a mistake.

Tester said according to economists “the economic depression” has been 40 years in the making and it can’t be fixed in one year. Careful decisions must be weighed and made when it comes to cutting funding.

“It takes good leadership to look long term,” commented Tester.