On The Job

On the Job with Mark Curtis - He's a Concrete Mixer

MINERAL WELLS, WV (WOWK) - "I've got some bad knees, I've got to be careful," said Apprentice Mark Curtis.

Welcome to my first day on the job as a concrete mixer and pourer. I am hoping to get one of those thousands of new jobs fixing and building West Virginia highways as part of the billion-dollar road bond project. I'm in my apprenticeship at the West Virginia Laborers Training Center in Mineral Wells, and at times it's a heavy lift.

"This is a better workout than going to the gym... I guess the trick is not to put too much on there, so I don't spill it all over. Does that look about right?" said Mark Curtis.

Other times I am acting like the sidewalk supervisor.

"So how do you know when you need to put more on there? That look's like enough to me, but I'm an amateur," Curtis said.

"So how do you know when you have enough [concrete]? Curtis inquired.

"With this board, we're scooting in. We're just getting it even with the form," said Trey Hood, Laborer.

And let me level with you, it all appears to even out in the end.

"And that way it's flat and it's smooth and it it's a sidewalk no one's going to trip or anything?" asked Mark Curtis.

So with all the new road work in West Virginia, people are training for thousands of new positions.

Q: Tell me what you were doing for a living before this and why this is helping you out?

"I was an underground coal miner for probably nine years, ten years. I lost my job due to mine closures. This is a second chance," said Aaron Headley, an Apprentice Laborer.

Many unions across West Virginia are looking for people from the Mountain State and bordering states, to sign up for apprenticeships

"They're not jobs, they're careers with great benefits. Retirement, health insurance, good wages. And we use a lot of local people as you can see," said Ross McPherson, of the West Virginia Construction Craft Laborers.

 "I'm putting on the gear. Safety first for everything said. Mark Curtis, 13 News Reporter.

"So concrete can give you a caustic burn? That's why I have to wear these gloves to protect my hands. I had no idea," Curtis added.

We've poured concrete is simulated columns, the type used for bridge supports. It's important to blow out any air bubbles in the structure:

"Down one more time? Yes, so that makes sure there are no air pockets in the column, okay?" Because that would undermine the strength of the structure I would imagine? Concrete soup. All right!" said Mark Curtis, 13 News Working for You.

It looks like my fellow apprentices and I are hired!

"This opens a lot of doors, for a lot of guys. West Virginia Laborers is a pretty good opportunity," said apprentice Aaron Headley.

"So now I have learned to mix and pour the concrete. If there's a job you'd like to see me do, just contact this TV station and have them put me on the job," said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.


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