After the announcement that the International Paper’s Bastrop mill would be closing, citizens started to voice their concerns for the mill workers and the economic impact of the community.
Employees, family members and others concerned for the area said the biggest concern was what is next for those employees especially during the holiday season. Five hundred fifty employees have been hit with this news.
Joe Keys is not only a concerned citizen but the father of an International Paper employee. His son has worked for the mill for about 38 years in the electric department.
“My son worked hard. He was still working (when the closing was announced),” Keys said. “It’s a bad thing to happen at this time. It’s going to be hard for Bastrop. It was the backbone.”
Keys had not spoken with his son at the time and was unsure of his future plans.
Employees will receive a severance package, but those within a certain age group may look at a different path.
“I’m at the age I can take a retirement package, but I know it’s going to hurt the others,” Barbara George, a mill employee, said. “You have to have faith. Look to the Lord.”
Nicole Wilson, a Morehouse Parish resident, said she has relatives that work at the mill so this “hit close to home. It’s sad to me.”
Even those not working at the mill or kin to someone there can sympathize with the mill closing.
“I know how it is,” Rayford Jones said. He worked at another mill that closed in 1992 and said he can truly say he has been there.
Other citizens, like Carol Ellis, Uriah Matthews Jr. and Patricia Ford, said this is tragic especially for this time of year.
“I feel very sorry for the people without jobs,” Matthews sad. Ford added, she “hate to hear about it.”
Adults in the community are not the only ones concerned. Bastrop High School student, Naomi God, joined her elders in commenting on the situation.
“I think it’s a downbreak of the economy. I think it’s a much needed business in Bastrop,” God said. “A lot of people in Bastrop are going to be devastated by it.”