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Magic City
Morning Star

East Millinocket Goes Back to Work

EAST MILLINOCKET -- The mill in East Millinocket is making paper again.

After almost a half year of closure, pproximately 400 people have gone back to work at Katahdin Paper’s East Millinocket mill.

Great Northern Paper Company had closed its mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket in late December of 2002, filing for bankruptcy protection in early January, 2003. Recently purchased by Brascan Corporation and renamed to Katahdin Paper Company, at least some of the furloughed millworkers are back to work.

“They’re glad to be back,” said Glenn Saucier, the human resources manager for Katahdn Paper.

During the start up phase, Katahdin Paper Company workers began making 30 lb. newsprint on Sunday, June 8th. Before noon, the first roll of paper had been completed by the #6 machine.

Having stood idle through much of a hard winter, the machine required repairs and maintenance in order to bring it back on line.

The #5 machine, optimized for producing directory paper, was in production by Wednesday afternoon, Saucier said.

“The machines didn’t give us a real hard time,” said Saucier. “We hope they’re going to be running for a long, long time.”

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Both machines are producing newsprint paper at this time, as orders for directory paper are down, customers having gone elsewhere during the 6-month closure of the Great Northern mills.

“We’re having to chase them down,” said Saucier. “It’s going to be a trying time to get our customers back.”

Millinocket’s mill remains idle, and Katahdin Paper officials have said that it would remain so for at least another year. Brascan had indicated that it would invest up to $60 million in a new bleach chemi-thermo-mechanical pulping plant in Millinocket to replace the sulfite pulp facility before resuming production of paper in Millinocket.

If all goes as stated, the Millinocket mill could employ another 175 people.

Great Northern Paper Company employed 1,130 people at the time of their closure.

-- Ken Anderson 06/13/03