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Memorial Day Event Planned for Former Verso Workers [AUDIO]

Steven Wright

SARTELL – An event is being planned for this Monday to observe the one-year anniversary of the explosion and fire at the Verso Paper Mill.

The event will start at about 10:30 a.m. at Veterans Park, following the traditional Memorial Day Ceremony at 9:00 a.m. 

Dennis Molitor worked at the plant for 38 years and is organizing the event. He took an early retirement in December of 2011, so he wasn’t actually employed at the mill at the time of the shutdown.  He says they’ll pause at the moment that the explosion happened.

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While the explosion and fire happened on Memorial Day one year ago, the actual dates are not the same – the event occurred on May 28th of last year, which falls on Tuesday next week.

Molitor says anyone who has ever worked at the paper mill is invited to attend.  An R-S-V-P is not required, so he says he has not idea how many people will show up, but they’re planning meals for over 350.

He says retirees miss the plant, because there were opportunities to go back for parties and other events.

Molitor says some of the former workers are back in school, others have found new jobs.  But, there are also still a lot of former workers that are still looking for jobs.

Volunteers are still needed for the event, if you can help out you’re asked to call Dennis at 252-7055.

One worker, John Maus of Albany, was killed in the explosion.  Two-hundred-sixty people were employed at the paper mill at the time.  Verso Company officials decided in August to not reopen the mill.  It has since been sold to American Iron and Metal Company of Montreal, and is scheduled to be torn down and the property resold.

The paper mill began operations in September of 1905.

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