Brandon Johnson of California helps set up one of the merry-go-rounds Tuesday afternoon for Smokey’s Great Shows in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

This week the Buzz is looking for a leader, celebrating graduates and wondering if it has the guts to face The Zipper.

Mmm, probably not.

But you’ll soon have your chance: Smokey’s Greater Shows owner Jeanette Gillmore said she hopes to open for the Auburn Carnival in Great Falls Plaza on Thursday, a week later than originally planned.

It will run Thursday to Sunday, rain or shine.

The hang-up was not weather, but workers.

Gillmore said she only very recently received approval for 40 workers through the federal H-2B visa program, with which she has worked for 16 years.

“I’m been very blessed and my boys just came in this week,” she said Tuesday. “I had five people that came for job fairs and I hired them and already three of them have left. I even used a recruiter from out of state (and) had a couple people come from Texas. They’ve already gone home and we haven’t really started working yet. I don’t understand it, so that’s why that visa program is so important to us.”

She hopes to have the rides inspected by the city of Auburn on Wednesday and be in business the next day.

‘Taking our time’

The Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce hopes to enter 2020 with a new president.

Beckie Conrad’s last day in the role is June 28. Board Chairwoman Jennifer Hogan called Conrad an incredible leader whose “energy is contagious.”

Hogan said the chamber has contracted with Career Management Associates for the search for the next president. CMA posted the job locally and nationally last Tuesday.

“While the board does not want to lose the momentum of the great work the chamber does, we are committed to hiring the right person and taking our time in doing so,” Hogan said. “Our hope is to have someone in place no later than the end of the year. We are excited to officially begin the search.”

Also exciting: New hires

The Lewiston Construction Skill Training Program had five new graduates last month, bringing it up to 20 people who have completed the program, according to Joy Gould, the workforce training project director at Community Concepts.

The latest graduates of the Lewiston Construction Skill Training Program, back row, left to right: Michael Gibson, Miguel Griggs, Charles Outten and Michah Ramos. In the front row, their new employers, left to right: John Ferland of Hahnel Brothers, Michael Pleau of Northeast Painting & Coating; and Joe Perryman of St. Laurent & Son. Photo courtesy of Joy Gould

Four of the new grads accepted job offers from Hahnel Brothers, Northeast Painting & Coating, St. Laurent & Son and Consigli.

The program, a mix of classroom and on-the-job training as well as help overcoming employment barriers, is a collaboration between the city, Community Concepts, Western Maine Community Action, the Maine Department of Labor, the Lewiston CareerCenter, Goodwill NNE’s Take 2, the John T. Gorman Foundation and local employers.

Participants learn skills such as handling power tools, math for measuring and a basic understanding of blueprints, Gould said.

All graduates have been offered permanent, full-time work.

“Many are still with their original employer, though some have moved on,” she said. “The design team is meeting soon to discuss when the next round will be offered.”

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 207-689-2844 or [email protected]


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