EMMC focus on helping laid off mill workers

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Since the East Millinocket layoffs in February, the former employees have been struggling to find work. With the mill now purchased by a company that doesn't appear to be interested in running the mill, it's the end of a long career for many former mill workers, with many having worked in the mill their whole life.

"Men and women who have lost their job and long-time employment at the mill for 30 to 40 years, and there's an understanding that they don't always think they can succeed," said Deborah Rountree, the associate academic dean at Eastern Maine Community College.

Rountree handles much of the job retraining for mill workers at this branch of the Eastern Maine Community College in East Millinocket. Even though the transition hasn't been easy, she has plenty of success stories.

Another challenge arises for East Millinocket

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The sale of the Great Northern mill in East Millinocket should be completed by Friday, and when it is, the town will receive nearly all of the $750,000 the mill owes in back taxes.

However, East Millinocket still has a number of challenges, including payments to keep its wastewater treatment plant running. Great Northern built the plant, which handles wastewater from the mill, the town and the nearby Dolby landfill. The mill paid most of the cost of operating the plant, about $1 million a year. The state has brought in a company, Wright-Pierce, to try to cut costs in half next year, which officials said is a short-term stop gap measure.

Millinocket, Belfast show Maine's changing economy

BELFAST, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For generations, people have been trying to make Maine's economy boom, hoping to find ways for the whole state to finally prosper. While greater Portland and a few other parts of the state appear to be doing fairly well, at least by Maine standards, most of the rural areas still struggle. The mill towns of Millinocket, East Millinocket, Old Town and Bucksport are struggling more than most right now, as paper and pulp mills close or go bankrupt.

Forty years ago, pulp and paper was king of the Maine economy. Millinocket and East Millinocket were the biggest of all, with the two mills employing about 4,000 people and paying some of the best wages in the state.

East Millinocket Mill auction approaches

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Bidders interested in the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket submitted the proper paperwork Monday for the buying proceeds, bringing the town of East Millincoket one step closer to knowing the fate of the defunct mill.

Bidders submitted a check for $500,000, a bid of $2.9 million dollars or greater and proof of being able to close on the purchase within two days. The current owners of the mill and the mill property, GNP East, and the owners of the papermaking equipment, GNP Maine Holdings, owe a combined total of more than $65 million to creditors, many of them in Maine. The trustee for the bankruptcy court Attorney Pat Perrino said that the sale price will fetch well short of that. His role is to find the best deal that helps the creditors and laid off employees.

Judge approves East Millinocket mill auction

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A federal bankruptcy judge approved the auction procedures Friday for the East Millinocket mill.

"We fully expect that this is going to be a competitive auction given the interest that we have had," said attorney Randy Creswell.

Attorneys said there has been a lot of interest in the mill and have spoke with 12 potential bidders. Eight of them are liquidators, looking to sell the mill equipment and building. The other four have expressed interest in starting operations again. GNP Holdings said that though they would prefer to begin operations, the bottom line is they want to sell the mill and property.

Company makes opening bid for GNP mill equipment

(NEWS CENTER) -- A company has made bid to buy the Great Northern Paper mill equipment and building for $2.6 million dollars. But first a judge must approve the sale of the bankrupt Great Northern Paper, unless a higher and better offer comes along.

The company that has put in the bid, GNP Acquisition LLC, does not appear to have interest in restarting the mill. The Portland Press Herald reports that the company is not interested in purchasing the land, but would have the option to buy it for an additional $350,000, according to an attorney representing the trustee for Great Northern.

Spaghetti dinner raises money for former mill workers

MEDWAY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Medway Middle School hosted a spaghetti dinner Thursday to raise money for laid off East Millinocket mill workers.

"With winter coming on and the cost of fuel being what it must be hard to decide how to spend the little but of money you have from welfare. I think these supper and things like that really help out," said event volunteer Robert Pelkey.

All donations from the dinner will go to help families in East Millinocket, Millinocket and Lincoln. Organizers hope to raise $7,000 to $10,000 to purchase heating materials like wood, oil and pellets to keep homes warm through the harsh Maine winter. So far they have raised $1,100.