It’s a Merry Christmas for workers at the Old Town mill, where everybody will be back on the job a bit sooner than anticipated.
The mill closed abruptly in August, with officials there citing foreign competition, high energy costs and problems with the biomass boiler as the reasons why. Even at the time of the closure, mill workers and city and union officials were confident that its doors would not be shuttered long, and there was talk within just a few days of the mill reopening in short order.
While hope of a quick sale were momentarily dashed after creditors tried to force Red Shield, the company name under which Patriarch operated the mill, into bankruptcy, potential buyers were eying the facility in short order. Expera Speciality Solutions, a Wisconsin company with four paper mills, was announced last week as having put together a deal to get the Old Town mill up and running again; a temporary agreement allowed Expera to take steps to prepare the mill for winter and a restart, and a final agreement was approved in US Bankruptcy Court on Dec. 5.
During the time the mill was shut down, about 20 workers remained to maintain the property. After the temporary agreement was reached, more employees were brought back, a few at a time; once the final agreement was in place, Expera announced it was hoping to have everybody back on the job by Jan. 5.
That date now had been moved up. Expera officials now are saying the current plan is to have all of the mill’s nearly 200 employees back on the job by Dec. 31. That will allow operations to be back in full swing by the first week of January.
And at that time, carloads carrying pulp should start moving on the local railroad tracks. Expera bought the Old Town mill, which has a capacity of about 200,000 tons of pulp annually, to help meet its needs for 300,000 tons of pulp a year.

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