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Luke Mill Closing in June

April 30th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

Verso Corporation (NYSE: VRS) today announced it will permanently close its paper mill in Luke, Maryland, in response to the continuing decline in customer demand for the grades of coated freesheet paper produced at the mill, along with rising input costs, a significant influx of imports, and rising compliance costs and infrastructure challenges associated with recent environmental regulation changes. The closure, which is expected to be complete by June 30, will reduce Verso's coated freesheet production capacity by approximately 450,000 tons, reducing total annual paper production capacity to approximately 2.7 million tons.

"It is unfortunate that we had to make the decision to close the Luke Mill, but the continuing decline in demand for the grades of paper manufactured there left us no choice but to close this facility that has struggled with profitability for a number of years," said Verso Interim Chief Executive Officer Leslie T. Lederer. "The company explored the possibility of producing alternate grades of paper products but the conclusion remained the same – we could not achieve profitability at the mill in today's market environment.  Consistently matching the supply of our graphic paper products with customer demand for these products, reducing our costs and rapidly diversifying our product portfolio into growing markets remain essential drivers for Verso's long-term success, and we continue to vigorously pursue these objectives."  

Most of the Luke Mill's paper grades are already qualified to be produced on other Verso paper machines, and the company is working to assure all customer needs are met, according to Verso President of Graphic and Specialty Papers Michael A. Weinhold.  "Because Verso is continually evaluating the best use of our highly flexible manufacturing system to assure we deliver the quality, reliability and value our customers depend on, our Luke Mill customers can remain confident in Verso's ability to meet their needs now and in the future," he said.  "We will be working closely with our customers to assure they continue to receive the high quality products and exceptional service they have come to expect from Verso."

Approximately 675 employees will be impacted by the closure of the Luke Mill.  Employees were notified in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act that their last day of employment with Verso is expected to be June 30.  Eligible hourly employees will receive a severance allowance in accordance with local collective bargaining agreements, and the company will begin effects bargaining with the local unions soon.  Salaried employees will receive a severance allowance in accordance with Verso's established severance policy.  In compliance with the WARN Act, Verso sent notification of the decision to close the mill to the appropriate authorities in MarylandWest Virginia and Virginia, and will continue to work with state and local officials to help Luke Mill employees take full advantage of all available support resources.

"The decision to close this mill that has been in operation for more than 130 years was an extremely difficult one, and is in no way a reflection on the dedicated men and women who work there," Lederer said.  "We know that this will be an extraordinarily emotional and challenging time for our Luke Mill team, and Verso is committed to treating them with fairness, respect and dignity during this difficult time. We will also do our utmost to ensure employee safety during the transition. I want to thank each and every member of the Luke team for their hard work and dedicated service to the mill, to Verso and to our customers."

Listen to comments by State Senator George Edwards:

Listen to comments by Allegany County Administrator Brandon Butler:






21 Responses to “Luke Mill Closing in June”

  1. April 30, 2019 at 8:55 am, MJ Hinton said:

    What kind of comments will Maryland Gov.Hogan, WV Gov Justice and PA Gov Wolfe have and where were they when this was happening. Probably trying to pinpoint Allegany County, Mineral County and Bedford County on the maps of their States.


  2. April 30, 2019 at 9:37 am, kevin said:

    Simply heartbreaking. A terrible blow.


  3. April 30, 2019 at 11:24 am, Devynn said:

    This is a horrible outcome for Western Maryland’s economy. Our families and businesses will be hurt by this.


  4. April 30, 2019 at 11:39 am, Brian said:

    I’m sure some people in Annapolis are celebrating this


  5. April 30, 2019 at 11:47 am, Brian said:

    The county better think about severely cutting their budget now before they run out of money next year this will mean a large decrease in tax revenues


  6. April 30, 2019 at 12:02 pm, Brian said:

    I’m sure you’ll start to see Chinese people in westernport to buy all the equipment except for the any pollution control equipment environments don’t understand this stuff is still going to be produced just with a lot more pollution in other countries


  7. April 30, 2019 at 1:17 pm, Joe Wellberg said:

    Karma has arrived. Thanks environmentalist nutjobs. How is that Kirwan commission going to workout since you all whine and complain about counties wanting to fund realistic levels for education and now mandates unrealistic funding levels. RIP Luke,Maryland caused of death idiot tinpot leftist.


  8. April 30, 2019 at 1:24 pm, Brian said:

    The county better get busy building a lot more park-and-rides cuz no new Industries going to come in here at $15 an hour


  9. April 30, 2019 at 3:46 pm, mark said:

    Stupid hillbillies getting what you deserve! How’s that MAGA doing for ya’all?? LOL


  10. April 30, 2019 at 4:46 pm, Bob said:

    Well, now we have a few hundred more folks relived of their productive jobs available to work for the “heartbeat of our community”, non-profits minding retards from more affluent areas instilling in them unwarranted self esteem and treating them as royalty.


  11. April 30, 2019 at 5:14 pm, Brian said:

    Without this stupid Hillbillies you wouldn’t have much of an Army Navy Airforce Marines because you wimps in the city would never volunteer to do anything for anybody but yourself


  12. April 30, 2019 at 5:26 pm, Brian said:

    Maybe we could become a tourist attraction like Williamsburg Virginia where you can come and see the stupid Hillbillies in the native habitat liberals could drive through it like an animal park and throat food to us out there window


  13. April 30, 2019 at 6:20 pm, Brian said:

    Republicans didn’t cause this plant to shut down the Democrats did


    • April 30, 2019 at 6:37 pm, kevin said:

      > Well Brian, it was on Reagan’s watch that the Kelly left, and under Trump the CSX cut thousands of jobs and now the mill is gone. The record speaks for itself. Even the companies Trump made deals with left. #MAGA. Yeah, right.


  14. April 30, 2019 at 6:53 pm, Brian said:

    Just in case you’re not aware the Democrats run the state of Maryland that is why businesses leaving


    • April 30, 2019 at 7:36 pm, Babbs said:

      > Good job Brian!! Tell it like it is!!!


  15. April 30, 2019 at 8:03 pm, Babbs said:

    Yes Brian, that is why business is leaving, I agree!!! This is not a business friendly state and hasn’t been for years, period!!! Let’s not forget to think of how many times the EPA was breathing down their necks over the past several years!! I believe this was under the watch of Obumber for 8 of those!! And let’s remember that Bill Clinton was the one who signed the disastrous NAFTA agreement!!! OK, here is a solution!! Let’s just bring in Clinton’s partner in crime and elect Hellary!!! Kevin, sir, you are delusional!! But guess what!!! There is a new sheriff in town!! His name is Donald Trump!!! Go Trump 2020!!! Drain the swamp and build that wall!!!


  16. April 30, 2019 at 8:06 pm, Joe Wellberg said:

    The Bern will probably campaign and say that his plan will make sure the mill plants children can become drug users and blame the rich for everything wrong with their unemployment situation


  17. April 30, 2019 at 8:50 pm, Brian said:

    Why is there no discussion about saving some of this milk they make Power with what is technically considered green energy when they burn black liquor they could keep the pulp Mill open which could keep the loggers in business and part of the plant in business because you can always sell the pulp if you can’t sell the paper


  18. April 30, 2019 at 9:47 pm, Babbs said:

    Oh, by the way Kevin, just in case you don’t know your history, Bill Clinton was a Dem, who signed the EVIL NAFTA agreement which cost MILLIONS OF JOBS!!!


  19. May 01, 2019 at 5:59 am, Joe Wellberg said:

    Karma has a way to bite. Now with crazy Kirwan going to raise all the property taxes because your filthy teachers unions. No employer will move in.


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