BUCKSPORT, Maine — Citing economic conditions, Verso Paper Corp. has decided to shut down one of its four local papermaking machines for November, according to company officials.

In a press release issued Oct. 28, the company indicated that for the fourth quarter of 2008, it plans to reduce total production at its four mills by 50,000 tons of coated groundwood. This is in addition to a 43,000-ton reduction in coated groundwood that the company has been pursuing during the second half of this year.

Bill Cohen, spokesman for Verso in Maine, said Saturday that the No. 2 machine in Bucksport would be shut down beginning Monday, Nov. 3. He said that, at least for the time being, there are no plans to reduce production at Verso’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay.

Cohen said he is not sure how many employees in Bucksport will be affected by the shutdown. He said the company is honoring union contracts and still has to sort through seniority issues to determine which employees, and how many, will see changes to their workload.

Verso shut down one of its machines in Bucksport for two weeks in September, a move that it attributed at the time to “market conditions.”

“We remain committed to running our manufacturing operations in a manner to achieve balance between our supply of paper and the demand for paper by our customers,” Verso President and CEO Mike Jackson said last week in a prepared statement. “Based on what we currently see relative to demand and inventory levels, this additional downtime is necessary to help us maintain that balance.”

Verso, which primarily makes paper for catalogs and magazines, owns and operates the Bucksport mill, which employs 795 people, and the Androscoggin Mill in Jay, which has 990 employees. It also owns and operates mills in Quinnesec, Mich., and Sartell, Minn.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....