JAY — People are in the process of organizing resources to help Verso Corp. workers who will lose their jobs in late October at the Androscoggin Mill.

Sixty-six people turned out for the first meeting of a transition team on Friday at St. Rose Parish Hall in Jay, Lisa Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, said. Many more people are willing to help, she said.

Representatives of social service agencies, education and financial institutions, businesses, and representatives of Maine’s congressional delegation, and state and town representatives were among those in attendance.

Verso Corp. announced Aug. 20 that it would shut down its No. 1 pulp dryer and No. 2 paper machine at the Androscoggin Mill to reduce production, which will permanently eliminate about 300 jobs.

Contributing factors for the company’s decision were foreign competition and high operating costs in Maine, especially high energy costs and local property taxes, according to a company release.

Verso will participate in a federal Trade Adjustment Assistant application, William “Bill” Cohen, a Verso communications and public affairs spokesman, said Tuesday.

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If the company’s petition is approved, “workers who lose their jobs or have their hours or wages reduced because of foreign trade may be eligible for trade benefits under the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Trade Readjustment Allowances programs,” according to Maine CareerCenter’s website at www.mainecareercenter.com.

A Core Transition Team was also set up. Members are Laflin, Thomas Hagerstrom, a Maine CareerCenter consultant and a Rapid Response coordinator, state Rep. Paul Gilbert (D-Jay), and Patty Ladd of the CareerCenter in Wilton.

A resource fair for workers is being planned for the future, Laflin said.

There may also be some smaller events to share information and give guidance on health care, education, financial planning, small business and entrepreneurship, Laflin said.

Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said the meeting was very informative.

There were several groups there that were hiring. Among them were Bath Iron Works and Cianbro.

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Town representatives will be doing what they can to help affected workers make the connections to the resources they may need, LaFreniere said.

“We’re more than willing to do whatever is needed, whether it is getting information out or connecting them to resources. We will do whatever we can do to help the affected people,” she said.

Many of the members of the team offered ideas as they shared resources. One was to encourage workers who have health insurance to use it while they have it, she said.

Another tip was that with Verso offering an early retirement incentive program for eligible employees they may need financial assistance, she said. Because the offer is only good for a short period of time, it was suggested that they should check with their financial institutions to get advice, she said.

According to a document given to Verso employees, eligible hourly employees with a minimum of five years of continuous service and interested in participating in the early retirement program need to express their desire to participate in the program in writing between Sept. 15 and 5 p.m. Sept. 25.

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