Collins, King, Michaud to meet with Great Northern Paper owners over layoffs, mill plans

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 11, 2014, at 7 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 11, 2014, at 9:33 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud
HANDOUT | Reuters
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud are scheduled to meet with the owners of the Great Northern Paper Co. mill on Wednesday to see how they can help restore 212 jobs lost there in what company officials have described as a temporary layoff.

The meeting with officials from Cate Street Capital, the New Hampshire-based parent company that owns the Great Northern Paper mill, will be in Washington, D.C., at 4:45 p.m, according to Kevin Kelley, Collins’ spokesman.

“We were disheartened to learn of the news about the Great Northern Paper mill. These layoffs, combined with the job losses in Lincoln, are a devastating blow to the families and economy of this region. We are working together to figure out the best way we can provide assistance,” Collins, R-Maine, King, I-Maine, and Michaud, D-Maine, said in a joint statement released Tuesday.

“We will meet later this week with Cate Street to learn about their future plans for the mill in East Millinocket. In addition, we continue to work with the community to provide the federal resources the affected workers and their families need during these difficult times,” the statement continued. “We are committed to helping East Millinocket and Lincoln respond to these layoffs and will continue our efforts to bring sustainable, long-term economic development to the region.”

The Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes regions were staggered by the layoffs of 212 paper mill workers from the Great Northern Paper mill last month and 200 workers from the Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC mill in Lincoln in December.

Forty-four employees continue to work at the East Millinocket mill on cost reduction initiatives and to keep needed systems running smoothly to allow for a production restart, hopefully in 16 weeks or sooner, company spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne has said.

In Lincoln, the mill’s three tissue machines continue to operate around the clock. The company’s website, lpt.com, listed 200 workers on the payroll as of Tuesday.

Great Northern Paper and its parent, Cate Street Capital, is the largest single taxpayer in Millinocket and was, prior to the layoffs, the largest single employer in East Millinocket. Lincoln Paper and Tissue is Lincoln’s top taxpayer, town officials said.

East Millinocket and Millinocket are still owed about $3 million in property taxes from Great Northern Paper for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which ends June 30. Lincoln town leaders are negotiating a tax abatement request prompted by the recovery boiler explosion in early November that forced Lincoln’s layoffs, officials have said.

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