Atwood plant closing crushing to West Union - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Atwood plant closing crushing to West Union

WEST UNION (KWWL) -- Eastern Iowa companies announced a total of more than 325 layoffs Tuesday. Perhaps the most devastating: Atwood Mobile Products announcing it will close its plant in West Union, laying off 120 workers in a town of 2,500. That accounts for about 5% of the population in West Union. That loss has a huge impact on a town of that size.

"We don't want to be a ghost town, nobody wants that," said Todd Jermelan, who's worked at Atwood for 15 years.

It's the Cheers of West Union: at Top Hat Bar, everyone knows your name. Tuesday everyone was talking about the Atwood plant closing.

"I went into work today, like normal, they told us about 10:30 this morning that there was a meeting at 11:00, 11:05 we got told they are shutting down the plant," said Jermelan. "When I started there, there was three shifts and over 800 people. Now we have 120 people and one shift."

Jermelan and other Atwood workers were given 60-days notice the plant will be shutting its doors for good.

"It brought a lot of paychecks over the last 30 some years, when you are in a small community like this, to see the effect it has on the individual families it's just devastating and sad to see," said Roy Guenther.

Guether is a West Union City Council member who also owns Top Hat Bar. He says people may have seen this coming but it doesn't make it any easier on West Union.

"As time goes on, it's going to be more and more difficult for folks to leave," said Guenter. "I think there's less opportunity. Hopefully they can find someone to relocate in that building at some point in time."

In the meantime, people here say all they can do is wait.

"Day by day, just got to get my daughter through high school," said Jermelan.

"The people around here are strong and tough, they'll fight through it," said Guenther.

Guenther hopes some of the stimulus dollars can help turn around the impact of the plant closure. He also hopes another company buys the plant and brings those jobs back.

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