SPRAGUE, Conn., (WTNH) — Sprague’s largest employer will be closing its doors in September and laying off 140 employees.
Word of the layoffs comes just a year after the plant announced plans to expand. It even received a low interest state loan to help fund them. But now Fusion Paperboard released a statement saying “Despite recent efforts, the operation can no longer be sustained.”
Employee Michael Dauria tells News 8,”We all look at this as very disappointing.” He started a local recycling program at the plant which he hopes he can continue to try to some jobs, a handful at first but maybe more later. Standing next to a drop off recycling bin outside the plant’s gate he explains, “You take what you see here and you do what we call processing which is put it into a bail format so you can put it in one of these trucks and deliver it to the customer.”
His plan includes collecting recyclables from local businesses and towns for free. They now have to pay to have them taken away. He would then process the material and sell it to other recycling plants in the state, providing it at a lower rate than what they are now paying for out of state material.
“Small glimmer of hope, keep somebody here maybe employed and move forward. That’s what we’re trying to do,” says Dauria.
Sprague’s First Selectman, Cathy Osten, is also trying to keep the steel workers employed. She’s hoping to help find them other work or find someone to buy this plant. Fusion Paperboard is the fifth owner here. Osten says, “I would rather have somebody inside the building because the impact is really in the region is on the jobs.”
The plant is slated to close Sept. 22, and according to the state Department of Labor, many of these workers will have to be retrained to find new jobs.