Mark’s Musings – Oct. 21, 2015

| October 20, 2015
Mark Fortune

Mark Fortune

Our community was hit last week with the news that WestRock, which most of us still may refer to as Stone Container, will be closing at the end of November. Over 200 employees and their families will be affected. Not only is WestRock a healthy daily consumer of the city of Coshocton’s water supply, but the employees at the corrugated paper company are also a major contributor to the local United Way campaign, typically being the number one giver each year. These are caring, dedicated and giving people to our community. They did not deserve this. No one does.

The next few weeks and months will be challenging ones for our community. This impacts people’s lives in a huge way, with many of the employees being multi-generational workers at the plant. And while most of us have probably complained about the “smell” that emanates from the plant from time to time, I have often been told, “Young man, that’s the smell of money.” The young man reference, of course, is from a couple of decades ago. The money, of course, refers to wages and earnings. The plant has experienced various upgrades and improvements over the years that have reduced the smell.

It would be altogether unfair to blame anyone at the local level. Oh sure, it’s easy to point fingers and say, “We should have known this was coming.” No one saw it coming because when a corporation wants to keep things quiet, it keeps things quiet. This can really be chalked up to something pretty simple, greed. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it is. I always like to think that there are multiple options when things happen. Could someone local or in the region buy it? Is this even feasible or possible? I don’t know.

I tried over the weekend to think about a positive spin to this event on our community. Kraft is hiring and expanding as are several others. That’s good. If there is a positive angle, it will be seen in the next few weeks and months as our community rallies to support the families of those employed at the plant. Many of them have their own tough, gut wrenching decisions to make around the dining room table. Do they stay in Coshocton or seek work elsewhere? As this settles in on our community, let’s think about the families with kids in school, athletics, and band or perhaps in their senior year and about to head off to college or career.

What can we do as a community? We can show our support through listening with a caring ear and heart for starters. We all know that the people of Coshocton County are at their absolute best when the chips are down. In this particular case the best thing that we can do right now is to pray for the affected employees, their families and our community. And throwing in some prayers for those that made this decision might not hurt either.

The WestRock website is located at

Category: Mark's Musings, Opinion

About the Author ()

I live with my beautiful wife Nancy on a small farm just outside Coshocton. We have been married for thirty two years and have two grown children, Jessica and Jacob. Jessica is married to Aaron Mencer and they are employed with Coshocton City Schools. Jacob is a sophomore at Kent State University. I graduated from River View High School, have a Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina Wesleyan University and am actively involved with the Roscoe United Methodist Church, serve on several local committees and am a member of the Coshocton Kiwanis Club, having served as Past-President. I love reading, especially military thrillers, the Civil War and history in general. My goal is to write a novel. My wife and I are also AdvoCare distributors and encourage anyone wanting to lose weight, gain energy and better health to explore AdvoCare at our website; I love the media field, innovative technology and have worked in newspapers for over 30 years – in fact, my first job was delivering newspapers. The Beacon is a dream made possible by the support of this community and a great team. I hope to continue serving Coshocton County for many years.

Comments (5)

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  1. Wow,so well written.My husband was employed for over 28yrs.with what we still call Stone Container and my daughter just finished college and was hired just two months ago on a new machine to test chips.I'm trying to stay positive by saying that 4 1/2 yrs.ago we suffered the ultimate loss.Our beautiful 18yr.old son Dean II to an auto accident.We all will suffer some way,but we will move forward,for we have no choice.Amen

  2. Thanks Mark for a great article. I've had the privilege to work at the mill for 15 years and has provided me to live a goid life. It is really a tough and sad time for us at the mill to go through this. I hope and pray that all my co workers find what they need. We were one big family.
    Thanks again, Mark

  3. Larry Stahl says:

    Nice article, Mark. You try so hard to put a positive view in a depressive world. Don't stop! We need you and the Beacon to keep doing what you are doing!

  4. Mark thank you for your positive outlook on this situation of all those losing their jobs. I can also related to what they are going through. I lost my job at a General Motors Plant in Pontiac,Mich which shut down ,I was lucky enough to go to another General Motors Plant and work 9 months ther and then was laid off there because of major layoffs.I then chose to move back home to Coshocton. My husband worked at Pretty Products for 42 years and lost his job there when our son was a senior. So having this happen twice in my life already I can tell all of the employees that lost their jobs there to STAY STRONG and things will work out for you.. Make plans and follow them don't let anyone bring you down for any decisions you make .Don't worry about losing everything, I had to sell my house that was only 16 years old and moved back her to be with my family , I now live in a mobile home ( with room additions to it) . Everything I have is paid for. Just saying the most inmportant part of life is your family, You don't have to have the best of everything in life to be happy. MONEY can not buy the love a family shares.
    hanks for reading this and I hope if this helps 1 person then it was worth my time to type this.

  5. James Kyle says:

    Not one overseas mills closed, only the Americans working for the american company were hit.