RUMFORD – Businesspeople and town officials agree that the permanent layoff of 130 NewPage mill employees will have a significant impact on the River Valley.

“The whole area will feel it,” said Greg Arsenault, owner of Maddy’s Pizza in Mexico. “It will affect everybody.”

He said several mill employees who will be losing their jobs were in his restaurant on Wednesday.

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Arsenault said. “We do quite a bit of business with mill employees.”

He sees a trickle-down effect, just as Mountain Valley Variety owner Rick Breau does.

“We get tons of business out of the mill. Some stop in for coffee each morning, pizza at noon and then gas up,” Breau said of his Rumford business. “I’ve heard of at least five people affected by the layoff.”

Although the layoff may not have been a total surprise, he said, the loss of jobs is finally hitting people.

“We’ve been doing really, really well, but I watch everything – change given to people, vendor costs. Every store owner has to be careful,” he said.

The layoff may mean it’s time for Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield – the three major towns in the area – to share more services, said Rumford Town Manager Len Greaney.

He wants to meet with Dixfield Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky and Mexico Town Manager John Madigan and the towns’ selectmen to discuss money-saving measures.

“We can’t just sit here and wait and watch things happening,” Greaney said. “We’re going through the budget process. It’s stupid to cut across the board.”

Skibitsky said he was willing to sit down with the town managers and discuss ways to reduce costs.

“It’s always a good thing,” he said.

He and Madigan want to hear more details about Greaney’s plan before meeting with selectmen.

“We’re all very concerned and worried and the layoffs will impact all of us,” Madigan said.

He wants the town managers to meet first, before agreeing to a meeting with selectmen. He said, too, that he and the town of Dixfield are continuing with their plan to merge police departments.

Although Mexico won’t be directly affected by the mill cutbacks, Madigan said many NewPage employees live in the town, and that could affect the municipal budget and taxes.

Greaney wants to meet within the next couple of weeks.

NewPage announced the elimination of 30 salaried positions and about 100 hourly jobs on Tuesday. The total represents 13 percent of the mill’s work force. Layoffs will take place during the next few weeks.


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