By C.V. Moore
OAK HILL —
The Kmart store in Oak Hill will close permanently in January, according to the company’s regional human resources director. Approximately 59 employees will lose their jobs.
Cricket Jones of Kmart sent a letter to Oak Hill’s mayor reporting of the closure as part of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requirements, which state that employees and leading government officials must be notified of large layoffs and closures in advance.
“I am saddened for those who have lost jobs,” says Oak Hill City Manager Bill Hannabass.
“I regret that Kmart was not willing to make the necessary commitments and investments to operate a competitive business in Oak Hill.
“The City of Oak Hill worked with Kmart through their financial hardships and supported them tremendously.”
Hannabass is referring in part to the city council’s forgiveness of approximately $5,000 in B&O taxes for the company when it was being reorganized in bankruptcy.
“There was also much encouragement and loyalty shown to this company by the City of Oak Hill through the years it was located here,” he says.
But Hannabass hopes the loss of the store will eventually transform into a positive opportunity.
“This closure will create an opportunity for Kmart to be replaced by another retail store that is better situated to provide a viable, long-term relationship with consumers in Fayette and surrounding counties,” he says.
Jones also notes in the letter that there are no “bumping rights” for the employees affected by the closing. This refers to the practice of giving laid-off senior employees a job in a less senior position.
Jones did not return a call for comment.
The store is set to close on Jan. 27.