OLD TOWN (AP) – Georgia-Pacific Corp. announced Friday that it will retire the two tissue-manufacturing machines at its mill, a move that puts about 300 employees out of work.

The Atlanta-based company said tissue production at the mill will be shifted to other Georgia-Pacific mills. The pulp operations and dryer in Old Town will continue to operate, enabling the mill to retain more than 200 jobs for now.

Georgia-Pacific officials said terminated hourly employees will be paid for 60 days following today’s formal closing announcement, along with unused vacation time. Salaried employees are eligible for severance benefits.

“The decision has nothing to do with the quality work force at Old Town; they’ve done an outstanding job,” said David Spraley, a senior vice president with Georgia-Pacific. “However, the overcap acity of paper, the mill’s geographic location, and energy and fiber costs make this decision necessary.”

The company said its human resources department and the Maine state employment office will help laid-off employees try to find new work.

The tissue machines that are being retired made about 9.2 million cases a year of Brawny, Vanity Fair and Quilted Northern bath and napkin products.

The tissue machines were first idled on March 24, and 60 workers were told to take unpaid days off or use vacation days. At 5 a.m. Friday, an emergency meeting was held at the mill where employees were told of the decision to shut down the machines permanently.

Georgia-Pacific spokesman Robert Burns said many of the company’s 14 U.S. plants have reduced production because of the soft market in the paper industry. But the Old Town plant, he said, has been affected more severely than any other Georgia-Pacific facility.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said her office was working with state and local officials, along with the Training Development Corp. in Bangor, to coordinate a retraining meeting for workers.

Snowe she was “deeply troubled” by Georgia-Pacific’s decision. “While company officials rightfully praise the quality work force at its facility, this is scant comfort to the hundreds of workers and their families who will lose their jobs as a result of the company’s decision to realign production,” she said.

Georgia-Pacific said that prior to the layoffs, the mill’s annual payroll exceeded $30 million. The company said it spent more than $180 million in the region on payroll, other expenditures and taxes.

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