Community response team to meet on mill shutdown

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LIVERMORE FALLS – The United Way of the Tri-Valley Area will be convening a meeting of local and state agencies to address the upcoming job losses at the Wausau Paper Corporation mill.

Late last month, Wausau Paper announced that it would permanently shut down the Number 10 machine, putting 150 of the 235 employees there out of work. The shut down, expected on or before Dec. 31, 2008, leaves one of the two paper machines at the Jay mill operational. The Number 10 paper machine, with a capacity of 40,000 tons annually, manufactures coated products, such as release liners used to label products, grease-resistant protective barrier paper and creped tape backing paper.

The United Way meeting, scheduled for Sept. 25 will bring several different local organizations together, with advice from state agency representatives, to try and develop an organized community response to the shut down.

“We’re lucky in one way,” United Way of the Tri-Valley Area Executive Director Lisa Laflin said, “that we have some time to consider the issue carefully.”

Greater Franklin Development Corp., Community Concepts, MSAD 9 and Livermore Falls Adult Education, local business leaders, legislative aides, state representatives and people from the Department of Labor have all been invited. The plan is to share new developments in the shutdown, as well as information collected through surveys given to all 150 of the workers affected.

“There are many messages out there,” Laflin noted, “we want to give people an opportunity to meet and hear what’s happening.”

The representatives of other nearby mills have also been invited, to see what other opportunities could be available. Some local agencies are also looking into getting a federal grant to create some training options for workers. United Way, which has traditionally acted as a convening agent according to Laflin, hopes that everyone will leave the meeting with a better understanding of the situation and an action plan to help address it.

“I think it speaks to our glass-half-full philosophy in our community,” Laflin said. “We’re not willing to let an industry close its doors and let its workforce go without some sort of proactive approach. We’re looking for long term economic growth and not just at our current situation.”

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