Sheridan deals with major mine layoffs - KOTA Territory News

Sheridan deals with major mine layoffs

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Sheridan is the closest population base to the Decker, Montana Coal Mine and almost the entire work force lives in Sheridan.  It's been that way for decades.

"The Decker Coal Mine was a godsend to this community when it opened up, said Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey.

So Kinskey is understandably worried about a round of layoffs that take effect this week.

"It's been a devastating thing for this community," said Kinskey.

61 workers found out two months ago that they were getting walking papers.  A spokesman for the mine said in November that the layoffs were due to "ongoing expense management
activities."  Unfortunately, the jobs lost paid better than nearly anything in Sheridan.

"There aren't $30 an hour jobs in Sheridan.  There's not $20 an hour jobs in Sheridan, said Kinskey.

And it seems the entire Sheridan community shares the mayor's concerns for the workers and their families.

"We don't have a lot of other industries in the town for those individuals to go to," said Sheridan resident Eric Frey.

"We have some families who would love to buy products and invest in their future and set aside money, but unfortunately they're not able to do that because they've been recently laid off," said James Donahue, a life insurance salesman who works in Sheridan.

Some will even be forced to move, to the North Dakota oil fields for example.  And that is a real fear for Mayor Kinskey, which is why he says he is pushing an increased focus into economic development.

"We as a community need to do everything that we can to promote job growth in Sheridan, which means business growth in Sheridan, said Kinskey.

But that growth can't come quick enough for many of the 60-plus workers without a job.

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