TWENTYNINE PALMS — Close to 1,000 applicants turned out for 150 jobs at the Tortoise Rock Casino job fair Tuesday.
Only the first 320 people in line were lucky enough to get same-day interviews.
The fair was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Little Church of the Desert, and some job seekers, like Shawna Carrillo of Twentynine Palms, queued up around 7 a.m.
“I currently work as a cashier in the PX on the base, and I have seven years’ experience as a cashier at stores like Albertsons and Stater Bros.,” Carrillo said after she finished her interview for the cash cage. “I’m a single mom with three children and I need something that pays well.”
The casino’s first phase has cleared ground at Adobe Road and Baseline Road in Twentynine Palms. This phase will contain slot machines, gaming tables, a bar and a snack bar. The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians plans a December opening date for Tortoise Rock.
The employers were accepting applications Tuesday for full- and part-time positions in marketing, finance, purchasing, the gaming commission, beverages and bartending, food service and handling, cashiering, housekeeping, maintenance, security, table games, slot machines and information technology.
“We pay minimum wage of $8 an hour and up,” Sharon Marshall, director of human resources, said. “We’ll be here today until everyone with a number gets their interview.”
Rudy Rodriguez of human resources estimated 1,000 applications would be handed out by the 3 p.m. cutoff time.
He noted the most sought-after jobs on Tuesday were facility maintenance, housekeeping, cashiering and slot attendants.
“We’re looking for about 10 slot attendants, five to six supervisory staff and about six slot technicians,” Rick Montigny, director of slots, said. “We want to see a smile on our slot attendants; we’re looking for people with a great attitude, a good personality to make sure customers have a good experience.”
Stacie Passmore from Palm Desert looked sharp in a crisp dress shirt and tie as he filled out his application in line under the hot morning sun ahead of his interview.
“I worked for 17 years at the Spa Resort in Palms Springs, even worked there as casino manager, but I was laid off and have been out of work since November,” he said. “I’m looking to start with a security position.”
Laura Smith of Twentynine Palms, No. 104 in line, and Molly Wolcott of Yucca Valley, No. 110, were waiting inside an air-conditioned church hall for their interviews. Both women hold food handlers’ permits.
“I’ve been just making it, but I’ve been basically unemployed for the past four years,” Smith admitted.
Wolcott has seven years in the food service industry, including at the Sizzler in Yucca Valley. “I’m a stay-at-home mom for a 2-year-old, but I’m ready to get back to work,” Wolcott stated cheerily.
While some folks were focused, others were hoping for anything.
Cameron Brightbill, 21, moved back home to Yucca Valley after finishing school in May.
“I’m applying open-ended,” he said as the line outside inched forward.
Jason Arestizabal of Twentynine Palms was dressed for success, but got to the fair too late to get a same-day interview.
“I’m unemployed now, but I’m looking for something in maintenance,” Arestizabal said as he filled out his application outside. “I was in construction.”
“I’ll take anything,” Jeanna Candelaria of Twentynine Palms, No. 248, said with a laugh as she took a cigarette break in the shade around 11 a.m. “I’m very-part-time employed right now.”
Candelaria got her interview around 1:30 p.m. and was put in line for slot machine attendant. She said she will be notified in October on whether she got the job.