Julia Hearthway, Secretary of the Pa. Department of Labor and Industry, paid a visit to the KME (Kovatch Mobile Equipment) complex in Nesquehoning, yesterday.

She as well as other state and local officials took a two-hour tour of the sprawling manufacturing facility and said she had the opportunity to converse with company officials and employees of the firm.

Hearthway said she visited at the invitation of Kovatch officials, stating she was glad to have the opportunity to view the operations at America's second-large firetruck manufacturing facility.

"It's always helpful to see a business operations from beginning to end," she said, adding she got to discuss needs and issues with company officials and its employees.

She said, "There's nothing like being here, talking to employees."

Afterward, discussions were held, headed by Hearthway, on various training opportunities and programs for individuals seeking jobs at firms such as KME.

They also talked about how the internet can be utilized in applying for employment.

Participating in the discussions were State Representative Doyle Heffley; Joseph Sebelin and Garry Wentz of CareerLink; and KME officials Ric Reaman, Ron Blisard, and Bob Krajcirik. John Kovatch III, CEO and president of KME, accompanied Hearthway on the plant tour. Reaman is chief financial officer, Blisard is with the personnel department, and Krajcirik is director of quality assurance.

Hearthway saw the building of fire apparatus, police cars, and various other vehicles from the skeletal stages to the finished product.

"I'm happy to have been invited to visit," she said, stating she was impressed with the local facilities.