Woodyard to close earlier than expected

BEVERLY — The closing date of a paper mill near Keyser has been moved up and that decision will have an effect on part of Randolph County’s economy, the mayor of Beverly said.

In a phone conversation with Mayor Cindy Karelis last Friday, Glen Gilbert, Verso Corporation’s operations and interim mill manager for the paper mill in Luke, Maryland, reportedly said the mill will “stop producing paper on May 31.”

Two weeks ago Verso announced that the mill would cease operations as of June 30. Karelis said the corporation also told the town of Beverly at that time that “the Verso Woodyard situated on the Seneca Trail south of (Beverly) would no longer be in operation due to the mill closing.”

In Friday’s phone call, “Gilbert estimated that three to four employees — and as many wood crews — would be affected” by the closing of the local woodyard, Karelis said.

“‘The impact will be pretty immediate’ to the area surrounding Beverly, Gilbert explained, as ‘truckers, harvesters, wood-cutters and loaders will no longer be providing Verso with timber,'” Karelis said.

All told, 657 employees will lose their jobs in the closing, Verso has announced.

Karelis said in Friday’s phone call Gilbert lamented “shrinking demand and exports coming in” and “a market flooded with paper product imports from Europe and Asia.”

She said “the Luke mill experienced a ‘substantial drop’ in demand for their label, magazine and food package paper — as much as ’13 percent in the first three months of 2019,’ Gilbert stated.

“It is shocking how fast the market is falling away,” Karelis said Gilbert told her, referring to changes wrought by the internet.

Gilbert reportedly told Karelis that Verso plans to maintain the paper mill “in start-up condition.”

“We intend to lay it up in a way that it can be restarted in case another company would want to come in and make fine papers here again,” Gilbert reportedly told Karelis.

For further information or any questions regarding the closing, contact Marc

Singleton, manager, human resources, with the Verso Corporation at 301-359-3311, extension 3004.

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