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Verso closing impacts more than just employees

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WAOW) -- Hundreds will lose their jobs after Verso closes mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Duluth.

Beyond that, independent loggers across the state are dealing with the loss of a major buyer.

Mark Flink of Flink Forest Products said he now has hundreds of tons of wood without a buyer.

Still, he's hopeful for the road ahead. "I've weathered a lot of storms, ya know? this is a challenging industry," Flink said. "It always has been."

In his 43 years of logging, he says the past five years have been the most difficult.

"Things change on a daily basis," said Flink. The latest change, this Verso closure, takes away one of his biggest buyers. In the past, Verso has made 50-70% of his business.

Henry Schienebeck of Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) said there are thousands of people just like Mark, trying to figure out what's next. "Folks that we talked to even before the announcement that Verso was closing, were down about 50% compared to last year's business," said Schienebeck.

GLTPA lobbies federal decision-makers on forest industry issues. Now, they're asking for relief. He said, "This is the first time that we have ever asked anybody for financial help."

That help has not yet been provided specifically to the forest industry.

Mark Flink said he still has faith his field will pick back up. "I'll weather the storm.

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Tom Lally

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