RUMFORD – NewPage Corp. had good news for employees on Friday: A planned two-week shutdown won’t be needed after all.

Mill officials reviewed inventory and current orders and decided those two weeks were needed for production, mill spokesman Tony Lyons said Friday afternoon.

“The market continues to be dynamic; it changes. We’re trying to be as flexible and adaptable as we can,” he said. “This is good news for the folks that would not have been working.” The shutdown would have affected up to 500 employees.

Mill management had announced in mid-August that all three paper machines, the pulp mill and the pulp dryer would be shut down from Sept. 22 through Oct. 6.

The precise number of employees who would have been out of work or taking vacation during the shutdown had not been determined when the decision was reversed.

Lyons said the reversal was based on sales and marketing analysis. He would not confirm whether orders had increased.

“There is a lot of flexibility with the machines. We’re of sufficient size to be flexible,” he said.

Gary Hemingway, president of the local union, said he learned of the decision early Friday morning.

“It’s great. I just wish that we as a company weren’t so indecisive and upset so many employees,” he said.

He was not sure whether orders had increased, but he speculated that one reason for the reversal may have been the permanent shutdown of a paper machine at Wausau Paper in Jay, where 150 people were laid off this week, and the shutdown of the Katahdin mill in Millinocket.

“That may change the fiber supply,” Hemingway said, adding that Maine companies are fortunate because of the abundant supply of fiber and a loyal work force.

Lyons said the mill’s maintenance crew would help specialty subcontractors during a six-week maintenance project that begins Sept. 7. Work will be done on the pulp dryer and the co-generation turbine will be rebuilt. When completed, the mill’s boiler will be more efficient and will produce electricity at a lower cost than before, he said.

NewPage Corp., based in Miamisburg, Ohio, owns nine mills.

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