Thursday, February 12, 2009

Local News

Century Aluminum plant near Ravenswood, WV

Hard times in Jackson County.

The closure of Century Aluminum and the loss of 650 jobs is huge in a county of 25,000. You have to figure that each of those jobs was supporting 4 people--that brings the total people directly affected to 2600.

Then figure how many people worked in service jobs supported by the plant, and the number grows exponentially. How many restaurant and convenience store workers will also be laid off? How many teachers will we lose when the school board loses $2 million dollars in tax revenue? Who will make up the difference for the power company that saw a strong revenue source disappear? How many homes will be lost? How many people will leave the place they call home to seek work elsewhere?

The blessing of the aluminum plant in this small county is also its curse. As the plant goes, so goes the county. We weathered through hard times in the late 70's, the extended attempt to break the union in the 80's. We saw good times return in the 90's, and now we return to uncertainty and a difficult future.

Downtown Ravenswood
The impact of the closing isn't felt by my family, at least not yet. Only one son works at the part of the plant that is still operating. Other families felt the hit closer to home. Still, it affects us all. Neighbors will be hurting. Stores will close. Schools will lose teachers. The local library will lose funding. Other vital services may be cut. It is an ugly picture, but it is the picture of our times.

Jackson County will survive. Many of those laid off will return to farming as they did in the 1980's. Some will simply retire. Others will work out of state, visiting on weekends until they can find a job closer to home. Families will pull together to share resources. More people will grow gardens, raise their meat and heat with wood.

We've been here before, and we know what to do. It isn't pretty, but mountain people know how to survive. The plant may re-open; in the meantime people will return to the old ways of making ends meet--dependence on the land and family, belief in a higher power, and belief in the future.


Carol said...

Mountain people will indeed always survive. I am from the Ozarks of Arkansas, so I do understand what your community is going through and I feel for them. God gave mountain people the strength and endurance of the mountains themselves.

Granny Sue said...

Well said, Carol. I wish this had not happened but I did not think we would be immune to what is going on across the country.

Becky said...

So sad! Everyday more and more companies close their doors. I am hoping it will eventually come to a close and we will begin to prosper again.

Char5 said...

You are so right on how many lives are affected by one business closing. I am praying for these families and for Ravenswood as a whole. You are also right about mountain folks knowing how to survive. My aunt used to say that the mountains felt like the arms of God around us. We survive by leaning on those strong arms and returning to the old ways that sustained our forefathers.

Granny Sue said...

Me too, Becky. It's difficult to see our friends and neighbors losing homes and jobs.

bayouwoman said...

No doubt mountain folk are as tenacious as bayou people. I do feel for them, though. Your post brings me hope and encouragement when the TV news brings nothing but gloom and doom. It helps me to know these people still know the ways to survive---many do not, I fear. My 3 acres in the marsh are looking better and better, cher`.


Thanks for putting the human side on the story of the plant closing -too often I think that's missing -

Lucky13 said...

In our small county of 7,000 we are feeling it too. Restaurants closing mostly, and now the biggest employer, The Inn is laying off and cutting their employees back 30%, at least the ones that are staying. They own most of Little Washington, so it's frightening, if they close, so will the town itself. Mostly our local folks are lucky enough that we live close to larger cities, so more opportunities if they can do more then construction, which seems to be taking the hardest hit in the whole state. Home foreclosures are up here as well, and that is the worst to see. I guess I'm lucky, even in these hard times, folks seem to need their wine, so far my job looks somewhat secure, though I try not to bank on anything these days. But I can work at a burger joint if all else fails : ), this I know how to do.

Janet, said...

My husband was hired there in 1978, but he got hit by their big lay off in I believe it was 1981, but at least it didn't close down then. It almost 6 months exactly after being laid off that he got hired at Carbide
I wish everyone luck in finding other employment.

solsticedreamer~laoi gaul~williams said...

i hope your community gets through this well

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