SARTELL - Verso Paper in Sartell has announced plans to permanently cut 175 employees.

The company says they will shutdown two paper machines at the Sartell facility effective on December 14th, which will eliminate about 103,000 tons of paper capacity each year.

Plant Manager Pat Gibney says they currently have over 400 employees.  He says while paper prices have only risen about 7% over the past couple of years, the cost to manufacture paper has gone up over 25%.  He says the two machines they are shutting down are original to the plant, which opened in 1905.

Gibney says they gave the news to the employees today (Tuesday), but they don't know yet which specific employees will be let go.

The one machine that will stay in operation will still run seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland says the news about the layoffs at the paper mill is disappointing to hear for the entire city.

Gartland says the city will do what it can to work with Verso Paper to keep the one remaining machine in operation.

Verso Paper's announcement also says they'll permanently cut 125 employees from their plan in Bucksport, Maine.