JAY — Glenda DiPompo got a flier in the mail Thursday morning advertising a 50th anniversary celebration next week for the Androscoggin Mill, where her son has worked for 35 years and her husband worked for decades before retiring.

The bad news arrived right after the flier.

Her son, Nelson DiPompo, called to tell her the mill is laying off 300 people, one-third of its workforce.

“We’re a mill town,” Glenda DiPompo, owner of Riverside Kwik Stop, said Thursday morning. “Everyone is connected to someone that works there. This is the talk of the town.”

Verso Corp. announced Thursday it will cut 300 jobs at its Androscoggin Mill, citing a decline in demand for the type of paper made at the mill. The cuts are expected to start in October, company spokesman Bill Cohen said, but their impact is already being felt.

Jessica Johnson of Livermore, who does maintenance at the mill in her job with RCCM Cleaning Services, isn’t worried about her job so much as she’s concerned for her brother-in-law, who has worked at the mill for four years.

“He was lucky to get that job, but now it’s not so lucky,” she said while shopping at the Kwik Stop. “I think it’s a little worrisome for everyone because it’s a mill town.”

Down the road at the Paris Farmers Union hardware store, employee Dale Bessey said the cuts will affect business. Not only does the mill have an account at the store, but many employees live in the area and shop there.

“It’s not going to be just the people who work at the mill that are affected,” said Bessey, who worked at the mill for 16 years. “I think it’s kind of obvious, but it will also hurt the people who are bringing the wood in. If they’re not making as much pulp they aren’t going to need the wood.”

“I think people in town are just a little in shock.”

DiPompo said the flier that came in the mail invited her and a guest to a barbecue Aug. 28 “to recognize the people who have made Andro’s success possible,” including employees, their families and retirees. She isn’t sure if she and her husband will attend.

Her son said the cuts are “going to devastate a lot of people,” although longtime employees like him will likely be OK.

“It’s the people that haven’t worked there as long,” Nelson DiPompo said. “I don’t know if (the company has) a plan in place, though, or if there are people who will retire early. That could also affect things.”

Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere was out of the office Thursday, but said in a prepared statement that she was “at a loss for words.”

“We all realize that the paper industry is facing many immediate challenges,” she said. “Our thoughts are with the many employees, their families and others in the community that will be directly and indirectly affected. As a town we will get through this together. We are committed to working diligently with the mill during this transition while addressing the needs of our community.”

 


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