WORKERS LOSING JOBS AT WIRT'S MUSTANG SURVIVAL - Company Says Plant Will Not Be Closed Wirt County's only manufacturing plant is laying off workers because of slow business.

Robert Askew, chief executive officer of Mustang Survival, located in Elizabeth, declined to say how many people were being layed-off, but he did say some of them are permanent.

Wirt County and regional workers use the "almost minimum-wage jobs" for family income.

Askew denies the plant is closing, but workers fear that such an announement is forthcoming.

The CEO says the reason for the layoffs involves supply and demand. "Most of the products made at Elizabeth are for the military and our specialty is for protection against cold and cold water and there is no cold or cold water in Iraq," he said. "Right now the military's concern is for ballistic protection," saying government contracts are scarce.

Askew says the focus is the war in Iraq. "Cold and water are not the threat," he said. "The threat is from the bombs and bullets of terrorists."

Askew, a resident of British Columbia, said "We are facing a challenge at the moment." He confirmed layoffs have taken place at the company's other manufacturing facility in British Columbia.

Askew said he wants to assure Wirt County workers the plant is not going to close.

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