Serta Simmons Bedding plant in Batesville to close

BATESVILLE, Miss.  — There's some bad economic news for Panola County, Mississippi as the Serta Simmons bedding plant in Batesville is scheduled to stop manufacturing March 1.

After 25 years in Batesville, the closing means some 130 workers will be handed "pink slips."

It's the second major business to shut down following the closing of Batesville Casket Company.

People agree the closing comes at the worst possible time.

Batesville resident Joanne Autrey was shocked to learn the news.

"It's very sad. I'm sure there are a lot of frantic people looking for a job. I'm going to put that on my prayer list," she said.

The mattress manufacturer says it's been evaluating how to best serve its retail partners and customers. As a result, it will close plants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Batesville, Mississippi and transfer work to other plants in their network.

Tuesday, employees coming and going at the plant, on Highway 35 North, declined to talk about the shutdown.

Many were returning from lunch and went straight into the plant.

However Leerone Coleman, who's wife has worked at Serta for nine years, was taking the news in stride.

"I don't worry about nothing like that. Long as I got the Good Lord I'm alright," said Coleman.

Economic leaders in Panola County are more than a little concerned and feel blindsided by the news.

Joe Azar, Executive Director of the Panola Partnership, said in an email that until last week, even Serta's local plant manager was unaware of the closing.

Azar cited Panola County's commitment to make substantial and costly improvements to the Serta property, saying, "We hope they will revisit their decision and give us the opportunity to meet their needs."

Talisa Martinez feels it may be too late for Serta's employees.

"I know lots of people are going to be losing their jobs and I feel it's very sad. I wish it wouldn't have to happen," said Martinez.

Serta says it will offer affected employees severance pay and assistance in finding jobs with other Serta plants.