John Lehew, the President of CH2M Hill, a company that received nearly $2 billion in stimulus funds and eventually had to lay off several hundred employees, had a very busy day on Friday.  After news spread that the company had been awarded a $1.3 million grant to assist those who had been laid off as a result of the stimulus, Lehew made the news twice.

First, when addressing a group of students at a Washington State University civil engineering program

…civil engineers are in high demand, and contractors at the Hanford site regularly hire them.

The program’s corporate sponsors — CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., Washington River Protection Solutions, Bechtel National and Fluor Corp. — all work in the area and in connection to Hanford. Their officials spoke toward the value of having a well-trained work force available and familiar with the area at graduation.

“I’m looking forward to hiring a few of you folks,” said John Lehew, president of CH2M Hill.

Optimism didn’t necessarily rule the day however.  While he may be looking forward to hiring new graduates, the prospects for Lehew’s current staff grow ever more dreary.  Also on Friday, comes this…

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. addressed rumors of potential layoffs Thursday with a memo to employees from Chief Executive Officer John Lehew.

The Hanford contractor is in the early stages of evaluating staffing and has no specific information now, the memo stated.

The current work force is aligned with the budget available for the fiscal year, it stated.

But as the remaining economic stimulus spending work that carried over to this year is completed and other work is performed, the contractor is evaluating various staffing scenarios to meet the Department of Energy’s 2015 vision, the memo stated…

All of this for a company that received a massive $2 billion from the federal stimulus bill.  We reported on the situationa few months back at Accuracy in Media:

… a Wall Street Journal report worried about what stimulating the economy now meant for the long haul, pointing out that shoveling money at nuclear-waste projects was nothing more than a short-term Band-Aid on a long-term wound.

“… projects that employ people quickly are often considered ‘low-hanging fruit’ and can fail to set the stage for long-term economic growth.”

Sure enough, when the low-hanging fruit began to go bad, when the stimulus funding ran out for the company at the Hanford site, all of those jobs—and then some—were eliminated. Reports of staff reductions at CH2M began in January when KEPR-TV announced that 1,350 layoffs were coming in September due to the end of stimulus funding.  The company had to organize a job fair for those affected by these layoffs, as well as an additional 1,000 laid off men and women at the contractor’s Hanford site. Hanford started the year with 12,000 workers but lost 2,000 positions nine months later.

Regardless, it has to leave a bitter taste for those employees who have been laid off, or are currently fearing for their jobs, to watch the President of the company talk about hiring inexperienced graduates.  Perhaps Mr. Lehew is anticipating another crony stimulation?