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Kentucky Plant Closure Disrupts Workers' Lives

"The plant put Paducah on the map," said James Harbison, a retired maintenance worker. "And its leaving is going to take it off the map, unless we get something in here. There are no jobs around here comparable to that one there."

Workers have few options, Harbison noted: "They're either going to have to take a cut in pay and change their standard of living â¿¿ or leave the area."

Businesses that supplied products or services to the plant are also bracing for a loss of revenue, as are mom-and-pop stores that count plant workers among their customers.

Eddie Leigh worries the plant shutdown will hurt his barbecue restaurant, situated a few miles away. Leigh's father started the eatery before the plant opened, and the two businesses have relied on each other for years. More than a third of the restaurant's business comes from the plant's workers, Eddie Leigh said.

Asked if his business can survive the plant's loss, he replied: "I'm going to try. I'm like everybody else: Do what we can. I can't answer that question because I don't know."

Local real estate agent David Nelson worries about a glut of houses with for-sale signs in their yards.

"It's going to become a buyers' market and it's going to take longer to sell these houses," Nelson said. "I'm probably more concerned about McCracken County than I've ever been economically."

Charities and churches could lose contributions from displaced workers who once were generous donors.

"Those who were at the giving end may be at the need-to-receive end," said Rodgers, the electrician.

Rodgers has applied for jobs as far away as Oregon but so far hasn't gotten any replies. But he plans to keep sending resumes until he finds work in new surroundings. His children are grown, so he thinks he will be better able to pick up and leave than his co-workers who have young children.

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