Cortney Railey, Sprint marketing staff coordinator, and Kay Lacy, a district manager, work together to get Lloyd Roberts, one of the displaced Georgia-Pacific workers, set up for their June 14 giveaway.

The Sprint Foods convenience store in Thomson gave a deal on gas, a free drink, and an opportunity to apply for jobs to displaced workers of the Thomson Georgia-Pacific facility on June 14. The plant caught fire on May 29. Over the course of five days, it burned until most of the plant had severe damage. Georgie-Pacific announced its closing of the Thomson facility on June 4. Ninety workers held jobs in the plant.

Displaced workers of the plant came by the store from 8.a.m. to 5p.m. in order to take advantage of Sprint’s offer. Robin Cantwell, Sprint’s human resources director, said that 44 workers had come to the store by 1 p.m.  To get the offer, workers had to show identification proving their employment at Georgia-Pacific. Then, they would get a preloaded Sprint card, download a store app, and then use the card to unlock the deal that made gas .12 cents per gallon at the pump.  

Cantwell said that the event came out of a desire to help the community, highlighting the importance of jobs in a community and Sprint Owner and President Andy Jones’  pleasure in providing opportunities.

“Our owner likes to give back to the community,” she said. “Jobs are what make a community prosper.”

In a release to the media, Jones spoke about the impact the Sprint event could have.

“We know a tank of gas can be a big help when you are out of work, and we are happy to provide it,” he said. “Even more important, though, we hope to help some of these hard working Thomson residents find new jobs.”

Before or after unlocking the Sprint offer, workers could also visit two booths set up at the store to put an application in to work at Sprint or elsewhere. One of the booths was MAU Workforce Solutions, a staffing agency partnering with Sprint for the event. The other booth had representatives of Sprint to help workers access the event offerings and start the process of applying to Sprint. Cantwell said that the workers could apply to all Sprint store locations in the CSRA. Positions include retail store manager, assistant store managers, and associates. She said the Thomson store has two positions open for application.

Alex Chesnut, 28, of Grovetown said the event was a pretty cool gesture by Sprint. Chesnut worked as a project engineer at the Thomson Georgia-Pacific plant for four years. At the beginning of the fire, Chesnut had hope that the fire wouldn’t destroy the plant.

“I never thought it’d get out of control,” he said. “I thought we would win, I guess.”

Now that the plant has burned down, Chesnut said that he’s looking to transfer to the nearby Warrenton Georgia-Pacific plant.

“I was hoping to get on at the lumber mill in Warrenton just because I don’t want to have to move,” he said. “There’s so many people that have been in the mill for so long, they need guidance to start.”

Lloyd Roberts, 64, of Thomson, worked at the Georgia-Pacific plant since it moved to Thomson. Before, he worked at the plant under previous owners, which included Temple Inland, totaling 44 years at the location. He worked as an electrician, lubrication, and receiving technician.

Roberts said it was terrible to see the fire.

“When I  retired, I wanted to leave with the plant standing,” he said. “My plan was to hang in there and ride it out.

Roberts said that God had everyone in place to get out of the fire safely as they hadn’t started running the plant at the time.

“After I saw what had taken place, I looked at it from a spiritual point,” he said. “The Lord looked out for us. A plant can either be started up, shut down, or rebuilt, but life can’t.”

Roberts said that he plans to work some more before retirement. He’s not one to relax, he said. Hopefully, Roberts continued, he can continue with Georgia-Pacific.

“I came too far to turn around,” he said.

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