CH2M-Hill to close Kenai unit

KENAI — A decision by CH2M Hill to close its Kenai unit will affect 65 employees of the construction and engineering firm.

The Peninsula Clarion reports Zebadiah Carpenter was one of the workers who received word of the closure Thursday.

“At our foreman meeting ... it was rolled out to us,” he said.

Plant managers told employees the facility had 60 days to sell or it would be closed. The news was not a surprise, Carpenter said.

“I knew that we were in the red. I knew that we were struggling,” he said. “It’s construction. You can get laid off at any time, so you know you just kind of go with it.”

Denis LeBlanc, director of operation and maintenance, said the Kenai unit does not have the volume of work that would justify keeping it open.

The company has 1,300 people in its North Slope operation, he said.

“This does the same thing as our unit does on the North Slope, at a much smaller scale,” LeBlanc said.

Carolyn Vanzant of the Alaska Department of Labor rapid response team passed out a stack of “layoff guides” Thursday at a meeting for employees. Workers using the Department of Labor database can look into training opportunities, money for relocation and job openings, she said.

LeBlanc said the company would do all it could to assist affected employees and expressed regret that jobs were being eliminated.

“We don’t have the volume of business,” he said. “We’ve sustained pretty significant losses and, just like you do at home, you can do it for a little bit, but you can’t do it for long.”

Carpenter said he had never been laid off from a company

“I’ll probably just transfer to the (North) Slope,” he said. “I’m pretty laid back. I worked up on the slope before, so I’ll just go back again.”

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