Local workforce and educational institutions attract Siemens Westinghouse to Elizabethton

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff

   Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation in Elizabethton wants to hire 40 combustion turbine mechanics who are willing to travel 80 percent of the time and work 12 hours per day.
   Many of the company's recent hires have been graduates of the one-year Millwright Program at Tennessee Technology Center (TTC) taught by Ronnie White.
   Mark McKenzie is the latest TTC graduate to be hired by Siemens Westinghouse. He was awarded a TTC scholarship after graduating from Cloudland High School.
   Mark recently attended a Siemens Westinghouse school in Houston, Texas, part of a six-month training program for its employees.
   Siemens Westinghouse technicians travel to power generating facilities throughout the United States to repair and provide maintenance to combustion turbines, which generate from 200 to 500 megawatts of electricity.
   One 245-megawatt turbine, weighing 258 tons, can furnish enough electricity to light up the entire City of Elizabethton.
   Mike Verbonitz, operations manager at Siemens Westinghouse, said seven TTC graduates are among 55 hired since the company opened an office in Elizabethton five years ago.
   "There's good workforce here, as well as excellent educational facilities. I'd like to see a general fund scholarship set up in every high school in Carter County," Verbonitz added.
   Verbonitz interviews eight to 10 job applicants per month. Candidates must either furnish a resume or complete a job application prior to an interview being scheduled. "We don't have employee turnover, thanks to Ronnie White, who pre-screens candidates he sends to us," Verbonitz said.
   White has placed all graduates of the TTC Millwright Program the past eight years, according to Jerry Patton, director of TTC.
   Rachel Little, TTC graduate and honor society president, is a field clerk at Siemens Westinghouse in Elizabethton. Beverly Buster, administrative assistant, is a graduate of East Tennessee State University.
   "Haynes Elliott, director of Elizabethton/Carter County Industrial Development, is the reason Siemens Westinghouse is in Elizabethton. We were planning to open an office in LaGrange, Ga., before we met Haynes. Haynes stops by quite often to see us," Verbonitz added.
   Siemens Westinghouse provides financial support to several organizations in the area.
   Among them, the TTC scholarship fund, Tennessee Technology Rehabilitation Center and the Bristol Baptist Children's Home.
   Siemens Westinghouse, Elizabethton, has an annual payroll of $2 million for its 55 employees who live throughout the United States.
   Persons interested in applying for the position of combustion turbine technician should send their resume to Siemens Westinghouse, 386 Highway 91, Building B, Suite 4, Elizabethton, TN 37643-6024, facsimile 423-547-2352.