The group Extra Help approached Wickliffe city leaders about holding the first job fair at city hall Friday.
The event came after the Verso Paper Mill announced eight days previous it would idle indefinitely. The plant will lay off 310 hourly employees beginning Nov. 1. However, 110 salary employees in management will keep their jobs.
As for how the community is handling the announcement, overwhelmingly, the thing that's said is "maybe it will reopen." Employees around town filled out job placement applications, and even took some home to family and friends. Even with that bit of hope, keeping a job — any job — is the biggest concern.
Verso employee Brent Fleming reluctantly filled out an application he never thought he'd need. He says he's split 50/50 on whether the plant will reopen, but is playing it safe. Fleming says, like many of his colleagues, he logged decades at the Verso paper plant, but the words "idle indefinitely" have him stuck between believing the plant will reopen and balancing reality.
"I don't wanna’ go too soon, because I don't want to miss going back the last week open. I don't want to miss a 20-year career and walk away from it if there's a chance," Flemming says.
The employment service group Extra Help says the easiest way to fill out an application is online, but they will help you fill out a simple questionnaire at their job fairs.
Despite trying to stay positive, Extra Help director Marcey Poshard says there's one other emotion outweighing their efforts. Poshard says there's nothing wrong with holding out hope, but beginning a job as soon as possible will hold the best chance for employment.
"Devastation. They're devastated, and it doesn't matter what you say — how reassuring you can be — its something they internally will have to deal with," Poshard says.
Extra Help has clients looking to fill positions from small businesses to administrative and industrial jobs, but job seekers did not have to pay to fill out applications.
The next job fair will be next Wednesday, Sept. 2. The time is undecided at this time to see when would be best for those swing shift employees.
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