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Future of Verso Paper Mill unknown after Evers vetoes legislation

The Wisconsin Assembly is taking up the so-called ‘Mill Bill’ Tuesday evening.
The Wisconsin Assembly is taking up the so-called ‘Mill Bill’ Tuesday evening.(WSAW)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WSAW)- Gov. Tony Evers vetoed proposed legislation for a plan to reopen the Verso paper mill Thursday night.

President of the Timber Professionals Cooperative, Dennis Schoeneck said he was upset about the veto. “Disappointed that it wasn’t done differently to begin with. I wish there would have been more bipartisan talk earlier on so we could’ve avoided the veto.”

The veto and the closure of the mills, Schoeneck said, does not only affect the mills workers and suppliers. ”It literally affects everyone in the state…They’re all wondering how they’re going to sell their timber because the markets have evaporated dramatically.”

Counties that sold the lumber to the mill used the money to support local projects like roads.

Schoeneck said it also impacts the health of the forests because of lapsing maintenance. “When our forests decline in health, that leaves us very vulnerable for disease, fire, no one likes to think about that, just look out west. That’s what happens when you don’t manage your forests.”

Rep. James Edming (R) Glen Flora, a co-author of the legislation, said he was surprised by the veto. “I am just stunned. Our logging industry is shot right now if we don’t get that open…It was a major money maker, a way of life.”

Rep. Katrina Shankland (D) Stevens Point, said using the relief money was too risky for the payback. “Using state fund not only would the loan terms be more beneficial to the buyer and make it easier for them to potentially pay it back especially if its forgivable, but it would also allow the interest rate to be below the market rate.”

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