April 16, 2015 by Andrew McGinn
When the Wild Rose Jefferson casino opens in less than four months, thousands will try to beat the house and strike it rich.
But over two days last week, the prize was an entirely different kind of jackpot: 250 job openings.
A long-awaited job fair Thursday and Friday for the casino and resort drew hundreds from throughout Greene County and surrounding counties hoping to snag some benefits with their payout.
The $40 million casino, which opens Aug. 1 at the corner of U.S. Highway 30 and Iowa Highway 4, had 250 positions to fill.
“We had crazy fun yesterday,” Nancy Webb, the casino’s human resources manager, said Friday morning.
Held at Wild Rose’s temporary office and warehouse—the former Microsoft Flake plant—Friday looked to be a repeat of Thursday’s crazy fun, with job-seekers pouring in an hour before the scheduled start time.
“We get in gear early. The early bird gets the worm. That’s us farm folk,” said Webb, a Grand Junction native who started with Wild Rose on April 1 after spending 30 years in Des Moines.
The first day alone, Wild Rose welcomed more than 350 applicants “easily” Webb said.
“We’ve been filling some good ranks,” she said.
Some applicants, like Marcia Devilbiss, who lives between Jefferson and Grand Junction, were back Friday hoping for better luck.
“I was here for six hours and they never called my name,” said Devilbiss, who was hoping to land a job in accounting. “They told me to come back today.”
Others, like Roxanne Ivory, who lives near Paton, had a better idea—take an application Thursday and bring it back Friday.
“There were 30 people waiting on the sidewalk in the rain,” Ivory said.
Frankly, few seemed to mind.
“This is a neat opportunity,” Ivory said. “It’s kind of exciting for the town.”
Wild Rose Jefferson is expected to have an estimate annual payroll of $7 million.
Some applicants were already employed elsewhere, like the state employee from Gowrie who harbored aspirations of being a blackjack dealer—but ended up applying for a marketing potion.
When it opens this summer, Wild Rose Jefferson will feature an 18,000 square-foot casino with 525 slot machines and 14 table games. A 12,000 square-foot events center will house concerts and live entertainment.
“It’s going to be a real boon to this town,” said George Byerly, of Jefferson, who hoped Friday to land a job as a dealer in the casino.
Wild Rose was looking last week to hire 45 dealers and casino managers.
And, no, experience wasn’t necessary. Wild Rose will provide training, Webb said.
“We know we’re not Vegas, Greene County,” she said.