Plant closing is a blow to Marietta, Oklahoma

Tuesday, January 13th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MARIETTA, Okla. (AP) _ This southern Oklahoma community is dealing with the sudden loss of 300 jobs after an Illinois-based cracker and cookie company shut down its Marietta plant and declared bankruptcy Monday.

Most workers found out they lost their jobs when they read a sign posted on the door saying, ``Effective immediately, Bake-Line Group has discontinued operations.''

George Finch, an 11-year employee, said he didn't know he was without a job until a co-worker called him Monday morning.

``I don't have any information, no phone call or anything. I feel like a stray dog,'' said Finch, who worked as a wrapper for the company.

Finch said he's ``keeping my fingers crossed and praying ... not just for myself but for all the others. We're in this together.''

Willis Choate, local publisher and industrial development authority chairman, said he wants to remain positive, but says the sudden job loss will severely affect the community of 2,300 located about five miles from the Oklahoma-Texas state line.

Operations at the plant included mixing, baking, shipping and trucking on three operating shifts. The plant also had mechanical and clerical personnel.

In all, the Bake-Line Group shut down seven plants _ two in South Beloit, Ill., two in Chattanooga, Tenn., and one each in Pittsburgh, North Little Rock, Ark., and Marietta, said spokesman Ron Bottrell.

The plants and the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., headquarters shut down Monday after the company failed to get anticipated financing and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The company will now liquidate all of its assets to pay off debts.