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WCBC’s Person of the Year 2019

 

 

 

 

WCBC’s “Person of the Year for 2019” is the Luke Mill Worker.  Patterned after Time Magazine’s award- WCBC’s annually recognizes a person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse has done the most to influence events of the year” in the region.  Rumors of a plant shut down have been common place for decades as year after year the region has experienced major manufacturing losses dating back to the Celanese Corporation, PPG and Kelly Springfield.  Unfortunately in 2019 those rumors for the Luke mill turned to reality.  Founded in 1888 as the Piedmont Pulp and Paper Co., the mill went through many ownership iterations through the years under such names as the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co. (1899), Westvaco (1969), MeadWestvaco (2001), NewPage (2005) and finally Verso Corp. in 2015. Nearly 700 on-site workers lost their jobs as a result of the closure. But the full impact of the closure is still unfolding.  Devastated communities and families soon adopted the slogan: Luke Mill Strong. As 2019 ended, many of the workers were drawing on severance and unemployment, with the future very much cloudy. Occasionally, rumors float that the mill will reopen under new ownership and, perhaps, with a new purpose, but there has been nothing publicly announced by local officials. For the devastating impact on the region and the courage and fight demonstrated by the mill workers during the closure- WCBC’s 2019 Person of the Year is the Luke Mill Worker.

 

 

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