CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two lawmakers voiced their concerns Wednesday related to the closure of a Maryland paper mill near the West Virginia border.
Verso Corporation, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, announced its decision to close its facility in Luke, Maryland, resulting in the elimination of 675 jobs. The company said the mill would close June 30.
The 130-year plant is near Mineral County and the city of Keyser.
Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, said much of the facility’s employees are West Virginians, and the related training center, wood yard and machine shop are also in West Virginia.
Howell added there are also concerns for the nearby Kingsford plant, which uses a byproduct from the paper mill for producing briquettes.
“I’ve already talked to the governor’s office on that, and they’ve reached out to some of West Virginia’s lumber mills saying ‘Your byproduct is sawdust. We may have a buyer for that or some way to get rid of it,'” he said.
Howell has also contacted the federal government.
“We need job training. We’ve got to be able to retrain these people,” he said. “It’s really a hard situation, and we’re doing everything we can to lessen the blow.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., expressed his disappointment in Verso’s decision through a press release.
“I spoke with Verso’s CEO Leslie Lederer and Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland right after I heard to see if there was a way to save any of these jobs and unfortunately there is not,” he said. “They both are committed to working with me and our state to help those losing their jobs find a new job and access resources during this difficult time. I will do everything in my power to help every single worker negatively affected by Verso’s closure, and to attract good-paying jobs in this region.”
Manchin’s office will be at the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce on Saturday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to assist those affected by the decision.