Mill talks continue


OLD TOWN (AP) – Georgia-Pacific Corp. released workers at its Old Town mill Monday as state and company officials said negotiations on a sales agreement with a potential buyer were continuing.

“While this has not been easy, I think we’ve made progress to broker the sale of the Old Town mill and retain family wage jobs in Old Town,” Commissioner Jack Cashman of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development said in a statement.

“We appreciate the time and efforts of everyone involved to keep this process moving in a positive direction, and recognize there’s a lot of work left to do,” Cashman said.

No details were released.

The statement issued by the DECD said that following on a March notice, the company was releasing all employees except those necessary to completing the closure of the mill.

“We’ve been working closely with the state and a buyer to reach a definitive agreement that meets our expectations. However, at this point, we have not reached an agreement,” said a Georgia-Pacific vice president, Ted Sapoznik, in the DECD statement.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe issued a statement of her own, saying she had spoken with senior company officials and urged them to reach a deal to sell the mill to a party that will keep it operational.

“While the permanent closure of the GP mill would be a major blow to Old Town and the surrounding communities, I am pleased that negotiations are continuing and I will do everything I can to ensure that these jobs are not lost,” Snowe said.

“I am doing everything in my power to keep the possibility of saving the mill alive, working side by side with Governor Baldacci,” Snowe added.

Snowe’s statement said GP officials plan to meet Wednesday to discuss details of the sale of the mill to a particular buyer .

and that state officials were optimistic.

The statement recalled that Georgia-Pacific announced on March 15 that it would be shutting down its Old Town pulp and paper mill, which employs 400 people, leaving the mill maintained for a period of 60 days.

That appeared to set Monday as the deadline for a sale before the mill is shut down.