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BREAKING NEWS: Verso Will Not Reopen Sartell Paper Plant, 259 Laid-Off Permanently

Steven Sohlstrom,

SARTELL — The Verso Paper Company Plant in Sartell will not re-open and 259 paper plant workers will be permanently out of jobs.

That’s the word this afternoon from Verso officials at a news conference at Sartell City Hall.

Verso officials Lyle Fellows and Matt Archambeau (Jim Maurice)

The Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Lyle Fellows says  there are “too many challenges due to the extent of the damage” from an explosion and fire at the plant that killed one worker and hurt four others.

Plant Manager Matt Archambeau says they have met with Governor Mark Dayton and informed him of the decision.

Dayton has announced that he plans to meet with Sartell officials tomorrow (Friday).  He will hold a news conference at Sartell City Hall at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Archambeau says they did not ask for help from the state because they knew the repairs to the plant would run into the “tens of millions of dollars.”  And they knew they couldn’t get that kind of help from the state.

Officials say the Sartell mill has not been competitive for a number of years.

Officials say they made the decision a couple days ago and decided to announce it publicly today.

The over 100-year-old Verso Paper mill has been shut down since the Memorial Day explosion and fire.  259 workers have been laid-off since then.

A negotiating process with the employee unions will begin to settle contracts with their union employees.

They say they will try to find a buyer for the paper plant site and are hopeful they will be able to find a buyer.  Verso officials say the location has great amenities, including the Mississippi River and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe freight rail that goes by the plant.

Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland calls the announcement another tragedy for the community.  She says it feels like a tragedy all over again.  But, she says they will refocus their energies on what the new reality will be.

The paper plant will remain on the city’s tax rolls.

Hear the news conference on-demand:

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