Future of Wickliffe paper mill is uncertain

Hundreds of workers at the Verso paper mill in Wickliffe are losing their jobs. The company says it’s stopping production indefinitely, starting Nov. 1.

It’s Ballard County’s largest employer, providing jobs to 420 people from Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky. The president and CEO of Verso says 310 hourly employees who work in manufacturing will be laid off. About 110 salaried employees will keep their jobs. 

"This is a little bit much for us," said Ballard County Judge Executive Vickie Viniard.

Viniard says it’s not easy news to take, hearing the mill is making hundreds of layoffs.

"This is going to affect a lot of families, so we’re trying to do what we can," Viniard said.

"We’ve made a tough decision," said Verso Regional Vice President Adam St. John. He says the company was out of options.

"Unfortunately, the supply and demand balance is off," St. Johns said.

St. John says the mill is idling indefinitely. That means one of four things. Eventually it could close. He says if the market changes, the mill can restart making the same products. Another option is it could be sold. It could also reopen making a new product.

"Hopefully, there will be alternative measures and negotiations so we can keep jobs down there ," Viniard said.

A spokesperson with the Purchase Area Development District says a meeting is in the works, so job agencies can meet with these employees to go over all their resources.

Verso operates eight mills across the nation. A second mill in Maine will shut down a pulp dryer and paper machine, resulting in 300 layoffs.

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