LIVERMORE FALLS — Don Nadeau of Livermore lost his millwright job at the Otis Mill after 33 years when Wausau Paper closed it in 2009.

He has held the same position at Verso Corp.’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay for six years. This time he was eligible to take the company’s early retirement incentive package and will leave his job at the end of November. 

On Tuesday, he visited booths at the Community Resource Fair held for Verso employees and community members at Murray Hall to see what options are available.  

About 55 resource providers, ranging from employers who had jobs available to health and social service representatives, were on hand, Lisa Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, said. She and several others organized the fair. 

“It has been steady,” Laflin said about an hour into the fair. “People are really engaged when they are talking.”

Her agency has launched a new website www.uvtva.org with a comprehensive resources area under a get help section. It offers a community resource guide for unemployed workers. 

Laflin also had some good news about the U.S. Department of Labor approving the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Verso’s dislocated workers on Tuesday. It will give the workers more options, she said.

“I took early retirement. It is too early to retire but I am taking it,” Nadeau, 60, said. “No one knew if we were going to have a job. I knew this was my best option to take early retirement. I am looking for a job to get me by for anywhere between two to four years to get me to retirement age,” he said. “Something easier than what I used to do.”

The company is downsizing the maintenance crew, he said. The crew which he has been part of does maintenance on all the equipment throughout the mill.

Nadeau was one of many workers at the fair who will either lose their jobs or retire by the end of the year.

Verso announced in August it would permanently eliminate 300 jobs at the Jay mill. It has already shut down a paper machine and pulp dryer.

Nadeau said he is OK with early retirement.

“I am kind of glad. With the work I do it is long hours. It is hard physical work,” he said. “There will be less people to do the work for the whole mill that still needs to be maintained.” 

He suspects it will be more hours for those who keep their jobs.

Nadeau plans to go to the CareerCenter in Wilton to check out his options. 

“I don’t know who will be hiring. I want something local.  I’m trying to keep my travel distance down,” he said. 

Patty Ladd, a manager at the Wilton CareerCenter, said all of the people being laid off from Verso will be eligible for trade adjustment assistance, so there will be a lot more training dollars available and a lot more resources available. 

It is excellent news, Thomas Hagerstrom, a coordinator of a Rapid Respond Team for the Maine Department of Labor, said of the trade assistance petition approval.

Team members will go back into the mill and invite employees who are losing jobs to learn more about the assistance program, he said.

There will a lot of additional benefits and wage subsidy options available to help workers to get back into employment, Hagerstrom said.

Dennis Couture of Jay has worked at the mill since 1980. He was checking out resources as well. 

“We have got to start a new beginning,” he said. “What chapter are we on?”

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