For those who depended on the mill for employment, the future looks grim

Danny Carter, 51, of Ellsworth has worked for the Bucksport mill for 27 years.

BUCKSPORT — Florida orange picker. That’s the career Danny Carter, 51, suggests he might take up when his job at the local paper mill ends in December.

Carter, an Ellsworth resident, is one of 570 millworkers who will be laid off when Verso Paper Corp. closes its Bucksport facility, a move it announced at a press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Carter was laughing when he envisioned his next career move. A 27-year employee of the mill, he said he doesn’t actually know what he’ll do. In 1987, he left his job as an animal caretaker at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor for the Bucksport mill, where his pay doubled.

But now, as Carter considers other work, he said, “There’s not this demand for people in their 50s.”

For now, Carter is still “absorbing” the pending closure. His wife still works at The Jackson Lab, and after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery three years ago, he said he can appreciate simply being able to breathe.

Carter isn’t the only one absorbing the news. Around Bucksport Thursday morning, the mill’s closure was the talk of the town.

Donna Brickett, manager of the Bucksport branch of Gold Star Cleaners and Laundry, right next to the mill, said her business occasionally did the facility’s laundry. Gold Star also hemmed the security guards’ uniforms, she said.

“I’m not sure about the monetary impact, but there’s certainly going to be an impact,” Brickett said. Her husband, who works for a contractor, will also lose some business from the mill, she said.

On the other end of Main Street, Leslie Wombacher, executive director of the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, declined to speak for any other members of the chamber, since she hasn’t yet gotten feedback from them about Verso’s news.

But speaking for herself, Wombacher struck a hopeful note.

“There’s no denying it’s obviously tragic for those families,” Wombacher said. “But I really believe, because I’ve seen enough after being here for a while, that we’ll figure it out.”

Charles Eichacker

Charles Eichacker

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Charles Eichacker covers the towns of Bucksport, Orland, Castine, Verona Island, Penobscot, Brooksville and Dedham. When not working on stories, he likes books, beer and the outdoors. [email protected]