September 2, 2004 in City

Elk City sawmill to move to Grangeville facility

Associated Press

ELK CITY, Idaho – The community’s major employer will close its 60-year-old sawmill in a year and move operations to a new, more efficient and expanded facility in Grangeville.

Bennett Forest Industries officials said the change will make the company more effective in the competitive timber industry, but the decision means a loss of 75 jobs in the unincorporated town of just 400.

“It will be devastating,” said Grace Altman, who runs the Elk City General Store with her husband, Larry. She said half the families in town get their paychecks from the mill, and 20 of the local school’s 33 students are from mill families.

But John Bennett, president of the company, said the new mill offers secure long-term employment.

“We met with our employees last week, told them of our plans and assured them that they would all get an opportunity to stay on our team,” Bennett said on Tuesday.

Grangeville Mayor Terry Vanderwall welcomed the investment in his community of 3,100, contending that Bennett would not be building a new plant unless it was optimistic about the future.

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