RUMFORD – Most of the smokestacks at the NewPage mill are quiet this week and few vehicles are parked in the main parking lot of the cavernous building complex. The No. 10, No. 9 and No. 15 paper machines are shut down.

Local 900 Union President Matt Bean said Tuesday afternoon that when he walked into the mill earlier in the day, the feeling was strange because so few people were working.

“It was not a good feeling,” he said.

NewPage announced a series of temporary full and partial shutdowns earlier in the month to deal with a challenging economic climate.

Although he has heard the rumors, he said he has no knowledge of any future permanent shutdown.

“I’m keeping an optimistic view,” he said of the mill coming back up and of the economy improving.

Mill spokesman Tony Lyons said Tuesday that the No. 12 machine is operating, and a number of staff are on site preparing for the annual shutdown scheduled to begin May 10 for routine maintenance. He would not disclose the number of employees who are, have been or will be laid off as a result of the rolling layoffs.

He said the No. 15 and No. 10 paper machines and the remainder of the mill are expected to be back up the week of May 19. Then, as previously announced, a virtual mill-wide shutdown will take place again during the weeks of June 15 and June 22.

Bean said along with most hourly employees, some of the approximately 100 salaried employees will also be laid off.

Although he would not reveal specifics, Bean said the No. 12 machine is doing a bit better than expected right now.

NewPage, which is based in Miamisburg, Ohio, and owns seven paper mills, has laid off hundreds of employees companywide in recent months. At the local mill, about 130 hourly and salaried workers were laid off in January.

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