Plum Creek Timber Closes Mills in Pablo, Evergreen

By Beacon Staff

Plum Creek Timber Co. closed its plants in Pablo and Evergreen on Friday because of a weak housing construction market and millions of dollars in losses.

Eighty-seven people were laid off at the Pablo sawmill, and 63 workers lost their job at the Evergreen mill and remanufacturing plant. Meanwhile, 23 employees were laid off at Plum Creek’s Columbia Falls mill, which will remain open.

Plum Creek reported $44 million in losses in 2008, and a $22 million loss in the first quarter of this year.

“We try to keep these mills running as long as we can,” company spokeswoman Kathy Budinick said. “But with those kinds of losses we really needed to take action.”

Tom Ray, Plum Creek’s vice president of Montana operations, said the closures relate to the overall lumber market, and he doesn’t expect a significant rebound until at least next year.

The Seattle-based company said it is helping its employees with job searches, relocation, health care tax credits and training benefits as part of the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

At least 23 mills in Montana have been closed since 1990, resulting in the loss of more than 2,000 jobs.

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