Maine Department of Labor to meet with employees laid off after Garelick Farms closures

 Garelick Farms trucks are seen on Wednesday at 1703 Hammond St. in Hermon.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Garelick Farms trucks are seen on Wednesday at 1703 Hammond St. in Hermon. Buy Photo
Posted Sept. 03, 2014, at 6:23 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 03, 2014, at 8:16 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Garelick Farms’ decision to consolidate its operations and close distribution facilities for its dairy products in Hermon and Caribou is not expected to have far-reaching effects on Maine’s dairy industry nor will it have much impact on its host communities’ coffers.

The move will result in the layoff of 30 employees — 26 of them working at Garelick Farms’ facility in Hermon and another four working in Caribou.

Product distribution in Maine will be contracted through a third-party distributor, according to Jamaison Schuler, spokesman for Garelick’s Texas-based parent company, Dean Foods. He declined to identify the new distributor but said that it indicated it intends to hire most of the laid-off workers.

Affected workers still will receive a severance even if they are employed again by the new company, Schuler said, adding that the transition likely will be completed in early October.

“Obviously, it’s never good to lose jobs, but I’m glad to hear that most of them will be rehired,” Caribou City Manager Austin Bleess said Wednesday.

The Maine Department of Labor plans to meet soon with the 30 employees affected by Garelick Farms’ decision.

Julie Rabinowitz, spokesman for the Department of Labor, said Wednesday that a representative from the department was working to set up a meeting with affected Garelick workers but had not set a date.

Ellis Additon, director of the Bureau of Agriculture Food and Rural Resources, said the announcement of the closure was unlikely to have any impact on dairy farmers.

“Those two facilities are simply drop-off points,” Additon said. “They bring the milk in there and pool it onto bigger trucks and send it off to be processed, and we don’t see it having an impact on the producers and farmers.”

Additon said he hasn’t heard from any producers directly about the announcement.

The company does not have any production facilities in the state after closing its Bangor plant in 2012.

In Hermon, the tax impact of the distribution facility’s closure is relatively small. That’s because Garelick Farms operated out of space at 1703 Hammond St. leased from Maine Trailer, so it did not pay property taxes.

However, town tax records did show that the company was assessed $16,400 in personal property taxes for its business equipment, machines, furniture and fixtures, Deputy Town Clerk Donna Shorey said.

The only other source of town revenue from Garelick’s parent company is the $3 fee the town receives for processing tractor-trailer registrations, she said.

The tax impact in Caribou will be even less. The town’s 2013 online personal property tax commitment book shows that Garelick Farms’ tax bill amounts to $461.25.

The real estate tax commitment book shows that the warehouse that Garelick operates out of at 1101 Presque Isle Road is owned by Benjamin Grant of Holden.

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