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Who will plant Vail’s flowers?

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail landscapers Tracy Schnell, left, and Krista Kruszt prune the bushes around Starbucks in Thursday in Vail Village. The town has struggled to find seasonal workers since ski season ended.
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VAIL ” The town of Vail needs more people like Josh Thompson.

“I’ve got a bunch of part-time jobs, but I needed a full-time job,” said Thompson, a Vail resident and seasonal worker for the town.

Thompson took a job as a summer landscaper, which complements his other jobs at the George and at Red Sky Golf Club.

The town is having trouble hiring all of the summer workers it needs, and is even thinking about recruiting worldwide for summer workers.

“It is a larger struggle than in years past,” said Krista Miller of the town’s human resources department.

The town is still looking for four or five landscapers and a couple of bus drivers, Miller said.

The town hires about 25 summer seasonal workers each year. To find enough workers, it has expanded its scope to college campuses and Web sites like Craig’s List, Miller said.

“It’s an expansion of what we have continued to see over the last several years of being a much more competitive employment market,” she said.

The cost of housing is part of the reason for hiring challenges, Miller said.

The town is offering housing at its Buzzard Park complex and in West Vail to prospective employees to attract recruits, Miller said.

Vail recruits internationally for winter workers, and hires about 80 people. That might start happening for the summer, too, Miller said.

“There’s some talk about exploring international recruiting for future seasons,” Miller said.

But Mike Ortiz, executive director of the Vail Recreation District, said the district is finding enough employees for the summer.

“We’re looking pretty good,” he said.

The rec district, which runs the Vail Golf Club, employs about 175 season workers during the summer, he said.

“We’re not having as hard a time (as the town of Vail),” Ortiz said, adding that many employees return to the golf course year after year.

Vail Mountain employs 600 summer seasonal workers, compared to 2,600 in the winter. Lots of college students approach the company looking for jobs, and the company holds a job fair for openings at its Red Sky Golf Club near Wolcott.

The town of Vail recently passed stricter employee housing rules for developers, saying they wanted to keep 30 percent of employees living in town. More jobs will be coming to Vail over the next few years, and free-market places for workers to live will disappear, town officials say.

The town is now working on redeveloping Timber Ridge with the Texas developer that wants to redevelop the Lionshead parking structure.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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