Nobody saw it coming. That’s the reaction in Wisconsin Rapids today, on news Verso Corporation will idle its paper mill there by the end of July.

“I was a part some conversations late yesterday afternoon where I was briefed on what would be occurring this morning, and I was shocked,” Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Shane Blaser said Tuesday. “I did not have any questions . . . I was speechless. We were given no indications that this was in the plans or possibly in the works at this time.”

A company news release says Verso will indefinitely idle mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Duluth, while exploring viable and sustainable alternatives for both, including restarting if market conditions improve, marketing for sale or closing permanently. A fact sheet from Verso says the Rapids mill employs approximately 915 people and has the capacity to produce approximately 540,000 tons of paper per year.

“I think we’re going to come through the other side of this, but it’s gut wrenching today,” state Representative Scott Krug of Wisconsin Rapids said. Krug, who still has his great grandfather’s retirement pin from the mill – calls it a “gut punch.”

WDLB

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