EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Everett O’Neill abruptly resigned as director of operations at Great Northern Paper Co. LLC on Monday, company officials said Tuesday.
Informally regarded as the mill’s manager, O’Neill’s resignation came without any explanation and as the mill gears up to hire 37 employees who will help restart the mill’s No. 5 paper machine next month.
Company President and CEO Richard Cyr said that O’Neill resigned to pursue other interests.
“We thank Everett for his dedicated service and wish him success,” Cyr said in a statement the company released. “As president, I will take a more active role in the mill’s daily management, aided by the very experienced industry professionals George McLaughlin and John Chaisson, while we complete our search for a new head of operations.”
Company spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne declined to comment on the resignation. Clint Linscott, chairman of the East Millinocket Board of Selectmen, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Tuesday. Selectman Mark Marston and Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said they had only heard of O’Neill’s resignation on Tuesday morning.
Marston and Conlogue described O’Neill as very professional and cordial in his infrequent dealings with them. They expressed regret at his resignation.
The resignation comes during an upswing in operations. When the mill reopened its doors in October 2011, 215 employees were put back to work. Since then, GNP has hired an additional 20 workers, and will nearly match that increase in coming weeks with the restart of No. 5.
When the mill resumed operations last fall, machine No. 5 produced paper, but operations soon shifted to No. 6 because it allowed the mill to increase production, and machine No. 5 was shut down, Cyr has said.
By the last week of August or first week of September, No. 5 will be producing 12,000-14,000 tons compared with the 150,000 tons produced by machine No. 6. In 2013, Cyr said he hopes machine No. 5 will produce 50,000 tons per year.
The mill has a 35- to 40-day backlog of orders, Cyr said.
The Nos. 5 and 6 machines are the last two remaining at the East Millinocket mill. The company’s Millinocket mill remains shuttered, though GNP parent company Cate Street Capital is on track to break ground this fall with a machine that would produce torrefied wood at the Millinocket site.
BDN writer Nick McCrea contributed to this report.