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Paper mill operating since 1866 to close; pandemic cited

February 16, 2021 GMT

ROARING SPRING, Pa. (AP) —

A Pennsylvania paper mill that has been operating since 1866 will be closing its doors, idling nearly 300 workers.

The (Altoona) Mirror reports that Appvion Inc. officials announced Monday that its Spring Mill will be shutting down this spring, affecting 293 workers.

Stephen McKnight, president and chief executive officer of Altoona Blair County Development Corp, said the company has confirmed that they will cease operations in late March or April.

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He said the news would be “devastating” for the local workforce and the community in the best economic times, but in the current global climate “it’s even worse.”

“We are shocked and simply at a loss by this sudden announcement,” McKnight said. He said company officials told him that the pandemic and ensuing restrictions had “wreaked havoc in an already volatile and competitive carbonless paper market.”

Mitchell Becker, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 10-00422, said the plant employs 243 hourly and 50 salaried employees. He said he had worked there for a quarter-century, and “this is not the way I wanted to end up my papermaking career.”

Robert Kutz, president of the Blair-Bedford Central Labor Council, called the news catastrophic.

“It has been a staple of Blair County for a long, long time,” he said. “Generations have passed through there with family sustaining wages.”

The mill was founded by Daniel M. Bare and his partners John Elby and John Morrison in 1866. It operated as D.M. Bare Paper Co. until 1946, later became Combined Paper Mills, and then merged in 1971 with Appleton Coated Paper Co., operating as Appleton Papers for 20 years. Employees purchased the company in 2001 and the name was changed to Appvion Inc. In May 2013. Appleton, Wis.-based Appvion filed for bankruptcy in October 2017.