Workampers Staff Amazon Facility in Nevada

December 6, 2012 by · Comments Off on Workampers Staff Amazon Facility in Nevada 

It’s 5:30 a.m. outside a huge Amazon fulfillment center in Fernley, Nev., population 19,000. Workers pour out of the doors as a new wave of employees arrive. They’re putting in close to 12-hour shifts round the clock during the final Christmas rush, CNBC reported.

Some employees leave and go home to RVs, a few of them parked, ironically, in a Walmart parking lot across the street.

These are “workampers,” temporary seasonal workers who roam the country in Winnebagos and Fleetwoods. They’re filling the 31 RV parks around Fernley, east of Reno, to work for another few weeks at a center Amazon has had here since 1999.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of really cool people, and I’m really going to miss them,” says 50-year-old Sharon Scofield. “But then I’m excited that I get to come back again next year, hopefully, and see them again.”

Scofield and her husband have set up temporary residence at the Fernley RV Park, where 60% of the 49 spots are occupied by members of Amazon’s “camperforce”. Temporary employees are paid about $12 an hour, plus overtime, and Scofield plans to use her income to pay for gas for her Winnebago all year. “The work is hard,” she says. What does she do for fun after hours? “Sleep.”

Amazon says it’s hired 50,000 seasonal workers and may keep some of them after the holidays. Workampers say the company recruits during the off season in places like Quartzsite, Ariz., where many of them winter.

Jim Melvin is in his second season for Amazon. “It gives me extra money to travel with.” This 68-year-old retiree from California says he walks up to 10 miles a day picking merchandise inside the Amazon facility. “When you walk into it, you know you’re gonna work hard.”

He’s hoping to save enough money to buy a car to tow behind his rig. Melvin blogs about his life on the road and the people he meets. “They’re fun…you see the same people,” he laughs.

The seasonal workers spend money in Fernley and Reno, an area recovering from the recession more slowly than the rest of the country.

Amazon even pays the rent for temporary employees at RV parks it contracts with. “It’s necessary for parks like this to survive,” says Bernard Roberts, general manager at the River’s Edge RV Park in Sparks. “This particular park is not a destination park.” He says seasonal workers provide about 40% of his business, and rents range from $350 to $575 a month.

Near the Amazon warehouse, Wai Louie serves up lunch at Louie’s China Bistro. “Without Amazon the whole city would be in trouble.”

Soon, however, the estimated 400 seasonal workers will be pulling out of Fernley. Most temporary jobs end Dec. 23, and then they’re gone … until next year.

Despite the hard work, Sharon Scofield hopes to get hired on again next year. “When I’m wrapping these presents, it makes me feel good knowing that I put that thing in there and I’m getting it out the door, and I love that challenge.”



Website Author Offers Five Great RV Destinations

May 15, 2012 by · Comments Off on Website Author Offers Five Great RV Destinations 

Thirty million Americans will hit the road this summer in their RV. Some will visit their favorite privately run campground, while others will take a chance on any of the 16,000 RV parks and resorts across the United States, reported.

Here are five suggestions from the website, in ascending order of significance.

5. Valle Del Oro RV Resort

If you’re a retired couple or a lively group of senior citizens looking for a unique adventure, the Valle Del Oro RV Resort in Mesa, Ariz., is waiting to show you a good time. Although the park is nestled within the beautiful Arizona desert and a few miles away from the restaurants and nightlife of Mesa, don’t be surprised when you don’t leave the grounds. The resort offers a beauty salon, dance lessons, a swimming pool, quilting, scrapbooking, softball, a fitness center and wood carving, just to name a few. The park is also pet-friendly and features a summer concert series.

Alaska destination

4. River’s Edge RV Park

The River’s Edge RV Park is a luxurious way to explore America’s last frontier, Alaska. Found in the bustling city of Fairbanks, the park offers 190 sites, but don’t assume you’ll be rubbing elbows with your neighbors. Enjoy the wide open spaces before exploring the miles of hiking and biking trails throughout the area. When you’re ready for a little culture, leave your RV in place and hop a shuttle bus to explore a multitude of nearby distractions, including the Trans Alaska Pipeline, downtown Fairbanks and Pioneer Park, a historic theme park featuring a replica Gold Rush-era village.

3. Horse Thief Lake Campground

Horse Thief Campground, South Dakota

Taking a family vacation to South Dakota is about one thing: witnessing the dozens of natural wonders the state has to offer. Found in the small town of Hill City, the Horse Thief Lake Campground allows you to “rough-it” in style. While many other RV parks and resorts offer a variety of modern conveniences, staying at the Horse Thief Lake Campground allows you to commune with nature and enjoy the simplicity of the landscape. The campground is situated a short 10 minute drive from Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Mountain and variety of other organic wonders.

Boyd's Key West Campground

2. Boyd’s Key West Campground

For many, the exciting beach town of Key West, Fla., is about staying in an austere and stuffy, albeit luxurious resort. If the preceding scenario is for you, steer clear of Boyd’s Key West Campground because you’re not the type to enjoy the oceanfront campsites or sense of community fostered at this well kept RV resort. Boyd’s Key West Campground features a whopping 250 sites, wireless Internet access, clean bathrooms, a gorgeous pool and most importantly, private beach access. Try your luck by fishing for trophy saltwater specimens off the dock before sharing stories with your fellow travelers at the Tiki Hut. Once you’ve finished worshipping the sun, travel a short distance to experience the fun of Duvall Street and the nightclubs and restaurants scattered throughout downtown Key West.

1. Yosemite Pines RV Park

When planning the yearly family road trip,  Yosemite National Park is high on many people’s must-see lists. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is visited by an estimated 3.4 million to 4.1 million people each year. Although there are several campsites available within the park, few if any amenities are offered, including hook-ups. Enjoy the natural beauty of the park during the day and a few modern conveniences at night by setting up at the Yosemite Pines RV Park. Located a short drive from the national park, Yosemite Pines RV Park allows you to enjoy the majesty and beauty of your surrounding while also indulging in amenities offered by the resort. Take your kids to visit the alpacas at the RV park’s free petting zoo or take a scenic chartered plane trip over Yosemite and the surrounding mountains and wilderness.



Congresswoman Visits Flooded Arizona RV Park

February 9, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Submerged truck at the River's Edge RV Park in Arizona. Photo provided by Steve Fiegen and published in the Prescott Daily News.

Submerged truck at the River's Edge RV Park in Black Canyon City, Ariz. Photo provided by Steve Fiegen and published in the Prescott News.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick got a first hand look at the muddy mess that covers a Black Canyon City recreational vehicle park north of Phoenix, according to the Casa Grande Dispatch.

The first-term Democrat from Arizona’s 1st District spent two hours surveying flood damage Friday (Feb. 5) with much of her time occupied at the River’s Edge RV Park.

A thick layer of mud now covers the RV park as well as the mobile homes that couldn’t get hauled out in time before the floodwaters hit on Jan. 21-22.

“It must have been like a washing machine,” RV park owner Steve Phillips said of the flood as he looked at his truck buried in mud.

His home and tool shed were also covered in a layer of mud.

No one is able to move back into the RV park until the mud is cleared and utilities are restored.

“This time, we lost a whole bunch of property,” Phillips said, including land that literally washed away into the nearby confluence of the Agua Fria River and Black Canyon Creek.

Bud Dunn and his wife were among just three RV park residents who decided to ride the flood out. They stayed with their dog in their neighbor’s trailer as two feet of water flooded into it.

“We didn’t expect it to get as high as it was,” Dunn told Kirkpatrick. Unlike some of his neighbors, his RV was inoperable so he couldn’t get it out when the warning of the impending flood came in.

Now he’s trying to clear out caked-on mud and keep away any mold with plenty of Lysol.

Kirkpatrick asked one resident if he could use a temporary FEMA trailer, and the reply was “yes.”

Kirkpatrick said she hopes some will become available for Black Canyon City residents, where emergency officials estimated that 150-200 homes were destroyed.

Residents flooded on the other side of Interstate 17 said they were especially surprised, saying they’d never heard of Black Canyon Creek flooding in their neighborhood.

More than a dozen people had to be rescued by boat.

Meanwhile, local and state officials are adding up property damage costs, hoping Yavapai County will qualify for individual financial assistance for its residents.

Flooded RV Park Residents Ponder Their Futures

February 2, 2010 by · Comments Off on Flooded RV Park Residents Ponder Their Futures 

Harried residents of an Arizona trailer park slammed by floodwaters last month are living in a storm-induced limbo, facing uncertainty after Yavapai County officials declared the park unsafe to live in, according to the Arizona Republic.

Damages are so severe that the county has posted placards at the River’s Edge RV Park warning that it isn’t “fit for occupancy.”

Trailers were pummeled by water and mud and rearranged like empty boxes when the Agua Fria River and the Black Canyon Creek roared out of their banks in a two-day deluge last month that overturned trees and deposited so much debris that the caretaker’s pickup was buried in sand.

“She used to be a good truck,” said caretaker Joe Moeller, 47. “We’re just going to put some rocks around it and create a memorial.”

There were about 60 units and 85 to 90 residents living in the park when the storms struck. Today, Moeller said, maybe five people are still living there.

Nearly two weeks later, residents now want some answers about what to expect next: what kind of relief is still available, how and when they might be able to rebuild, and where they are to live in the interim.

Many of them joined about 300 Black Canyon City-area residents at a local school Monday night (Feb. 1) where county and federal officials were invited to address those subjects at what was expected to be a lively public forum.

Some River’s Edge residents were irritated by reports that their park was going to be condemned. Steve Mauk of Yavapai County Development Services said the notices at the park mean that people should not live there until its wastewater, electrical and well systems have been repaired.

The park, though, has not been condemned. Officials said it could reopen once the electrical, sewage and well systems are repaired.

“The intent is to ensure the park meets life-safety issues prior to it being occupied again,” he said Monday afternoon.

Some residents lost everything. Others didn’t have it as bad but still are working through serious damage and a lot of heartache. Those interviewed Monday said they liked living near the river. No one expected the kind of flood that rumbled down on them during the recent storms.

Residents at the meeting were upset by the lack of temporary-housing information and the absence of federal emergency officials.

Ronn White, 49, said nothing like this has ever happened and asked if there was some sort of problem besides the rain, such as a system failure. He never got the answer. He was also frustrated because he said officials didn’t seem to acknowledge that the entire area got hit.

“These people got wiped out,” he said. “That’s terrible, but this isn’t just about the RV park.”

Now, earthmovers are hauling away or redirecting giant mounds of mud and sand. As residents continued cleaning up Monday, nearly all said they weren’t sure what was next.

“It ain’t really sunk in yet,” Tim Strmic, 49, said as he dug out the mud packed under his RV. “The more work I do, the more I see I have to do.”

A tree that grows at an angle grabbed his shed like a lifeguard, preventing it from being swept downstream. He’d like to get his tools and other things out, but the door is trapped shut and Strmic doesn’t really want to cut down the tree.

As they assess their options, most residents also are unclear about what help the government can provide. Some have moved in with relatives or friends temporarily. Others have gone to a Red Cross shelter, but that shelter is scheduled to close by the middle of this week, potentially leaving them homeless.

The Red Cross said it has programs to help with clothes, food and rent.

Few of the residents appeared to have flood insurance, so how they will pay for repairs or replacements is a big unknown.

On Monday, skepticism was rampant about whether government aid would materialize.

Earl Pittman, 57, of Blue Ridge, Ga., was back Monday at the spot where his RV was parked before the storm. He was scanning the site for any belongings left in the churn. A couple of planters turned up.

Pittman was one of the lucky ones: He moved his RV twice as the floodwaters were rising, finally finding safety on a dry spot. He said the flood hit fast and hard.

“It takes a lot to kind of unnerve me,” he said. “When I stepped out in knee-deep water, I was unnerved.”

Gary Scofield, 66, a retired iron worker and one of the few still calling River’s Edge home, has no water or power in his trailer. It had 20 inches of water in it during the storm. Nonetheless, he still is spending his nights there.

Nobody has told him directly not to stay, he said. But he is learning quickly that it makes sense to leave regularly.

“If you stay here too long, it will mentally get to you,” he said.