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AUDIO: Verso: Damaged Sartell Paper Mill Will Not Reopen

AUDIO: Verso: Damaged Sartell Paper Mill Will Not Reopen Click to Enlarge Photo:

Aug 2, 2012 at 11:31 am

SARTELL, Minn. (KNSI) - The Verso Paper Corporation announced Thursday they will not reopen its paper mill in Sartell, just over two months after a devastating explosion and fire tore through the century-old mill on Memorial Day, killing one worker and leaving the facility crippled.

Verso vice president for manufacturing and energy Lyle Fellows made the announcement during a somber afternoon news conference at Sartell City Hall Thursday.

Fellows said the decision was difficult for Verso, who finalized their move to shuttle the 107-year-old mill within the past few days.

AUDIO: Listen to Thursday's news conference announcing the closing of the Sartell Verso paper mill; 8/2/12

Fellows said the Sartell mill had not been competitive for a number of years and despite the shutdown of two of the mill's three paper machines last December, the mill could not have maintained enough productivity to warrant keeping the facility open. That, in addition to the tens of millions of dollars that would have been needed to affect repairs following May's fire made reopening the facility impossible, Fellows said.

Verso President and CEO David Paterson met with Gov. Mark Dayton in St. Paul earlier Thursday to inform him of Verso's decision, Fellows said. He said the company would work with the state on trying to find a suitable use for the site.

Sartell City Adminstrator Patti Gartland said while Thursday's announcement was tragic for the city, they were prepared to turn their focus from reopening the plant to redeveloping the site with a new partner.

Gartland said the city would continue working with the more than 250 workers at the mill who had been laid off since shortly after the blast and fire on May 28.

The skeleton crew of employees still working at the Sartell mill were let go today, Fellows said.

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