‘To see something come back is a welcome sight’

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

FRANKLIN—Wesley Dorsey heard while in class Tuesday at Paul D. Camp Community College that International Paper was reopening a portion of its Franklin mill.

The former IP employee was told the project would create more than 200 jobs.

“To see something come back is a welcome sight,” Dorsey said. “I know the town is excited about it.”

Dorsey hopes the announcement means jobs for former employees, 1,100 of whom lost their jobs when the mill shut down almost a year ago. He is currently in school working toward a journeyman’s license.

He said with dried-up severance and tax refunds, former IP employees are to the point where they have to go back to work.

“I hope they would show preference to former mill workers,” said Dorsey, who worked in the sheet plant. “I would like to finish school, but I wouldn’t turn down a good job. A lot of my classmates feel the same way.”

“This wouldn’t be in my line of expertise, but if they are willing to train, I’m willing to learn,” Dorsey added.

Former employee Colby Eure said he’s keeping his options open after remaining unemployed since losing his job due to the closure.

“I’ve been looking everywhere, but jobs are hard to come by,” he said.

The former shift crew leader said he would consider a return to the mill.

“If I had the opportunity, I probably wouldn’t turn it down,” Eure said.

Dorsey said jobs in the sheet plant paid around $23 an hour before the mill was shut down. He said mill workers made more — between $23-$26 per hour.

Former mill worker Tommy Councill said he has also been searching for work since he lost his job about a year ago. He said he would consider coming back if he didn’t have another job when the mill starts staffing.

“I definitely didn’t like losing my job,” Councill said.