Plant Closure Part 2

"It's been in my family all of these years. That's the sad part."

Malcolm Utsey is the owner of Choctaw Manufacturing in Silas, Alabama. For 53 years the company has mainly supplied uniforms for the military. Three years ago the company employed more than 300 people. Now, because of dwindling contracts that number has dropped to barely 40.

Jean Holder's mother is one of those who has been laid off.

"My mom is 70-years-old. She draws Social Security, but she still can't make it," Holder said. "She needs this job! I've been here 30 years and I need it! We all need it!"

"I'm too old to move," said Virginia Cox who has worked at the company for five years. "It's just harder to find a job when you're older anyway. I don't know what I'll do if it closes."

"I'm willing to sell," said Utsey. "If it will save jobs, I'll be willing to sell!"

To no avail, Utsey says he's tried to sell the company, which is now more than a half million dollars behind in loan payments. Utsey says he feels things can still turn around for the company, especially if it has a minority buyer.

"What I've been told is that minorities can get contracts quicker," Utsey said.

Complete with a town hall, police department, library, florist and one or two other businesses, closure of the plant could be devastating to the town of Silas.

Randy Boggs is principal at Southern Choctaw High School.

"We already see the affects in the increase in the number of free lunch applications. We also see it at athletic events. The parents can't afford to come," said Boggs.

Meanwhile, as the company prepares to move back into its original building, Utsey says this very well might not be the company's last change.

"I would say that the company will not make it past summer or May," Utesy said, "based on the workload we have now!"


WTOK-TV 815 23rd Ave Meridian, Ms. 39301 Phone: (601) 693-1441
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 226366 - wtok.com/a?a=226366