BUCKSPORT — The paper mill in Bucksport is scheduled to begin shutting down this week after more than 80 years as a major employer in the town of about 5,000 residents.

Production at the Verso Paper Corp. mill will be fully finished by Thursday, company spokesman Bill Cohen has said. Clean-up, winterization and mothballing will then begin, and the official shutdown date will be Dec. 31, he said.

The mill’s owners have said the facility is not profitable.

Bucksport town manager Derik Goodine said he was hoping for a “December miracle” that would save the mill and its more than 500 jobs, but that doesn’t appear to have happened.

Goodine said he would prefer the mill not be disassembled because the facility could still potentially attract a buyer.

“Ideally I would like to see them not disassembling it if there are prospective buyers out there,” Goodine said. “I think there must be.”

The mill was originally set to shut down completely by Monday. Cohen said the company extended the date after it became clear that shutting down and mothballing the mill would not be finished by then.

The company’s workers will remain on the payroll until Dec. 31, Cohen has said.