Former mill workers go back to school | News

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Former mill workers go back to school

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The people of East Millinocket are not strangers to the struggle that comes after a paper mill closes. The mill there has opened and closed several times over the years, but, for those former mill workers, the hope of a restart is now replaced by a desire to seek other opportunities.

Going back to school can be extremely intimidating, especially if it's to learn an entirely new career when you're only about a decade from retirement, which is the case for many ex-mill workers in East Millinocket.

Administrative officials at the Katahdin Region Higher Education Center said they've seen mill workers coming in to learn new trades every day over the past 13 years as the paper mill slowly shut down. Since the mill closed in 2014, the last of the laid off workers began to transition back towards education as an alternative. Thirty-two year mill worker Thomas Morris is in his fifties and had been unemployed for a year. Morris has been coming to study at the center since late January. Now he's pushing forward with a new outlook.

"It was a little bit nerve-racking not being in school, not figuring out what to do, because at our age, to take on a new career and be successful it's a great accomplishment. It's a good way to look at it, is as a new lease on life," said Morris.

Morris is now trying to turn his passion into a career by studying fitness and nutrition. He hopes to become a certified personal trainer.


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