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NH paper mill shuts down temporarily

July 12, 2011

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GORHAM, N.H.—Nearly three weeks after the last paper mill in New Hampshire's North Country reopened, it has shut down temporarily after exceeding its orders for customers.

Gorham Paper and Tissue had idled its paper towel machine as of Monday and plans to restart it by July 24.

The shutdown was not unexpected, given that the mill was getting back into the paper market after eight months, mill spokesman Dan Bird said Tuesday.

"We actually started the machine up much better than we anticipated and we've run it at a much higher rate," Bird said. "They've just outstripped the orders."

The mill employs about 100 people.

Bird said there are still plans to restart another machine that makes specialty papers. Originally planned for mid-July, that looks more likely to happen at the end of the month.

The shutdown was understandable, said Eddy DeBlois, spokesman for United Steelworkers Local 75 in Berlin. "It's going to take us some time to rebuild our customer base and our order base," he said.

DeBlois said some people are discouraged and a little nervous about the shutdown.

"I knew that we would go through a few bumps in the road trying to ramp up the business before saying we're running steady," he said.

Bird and DeBlois said there are no changes to the new owner's commitment to the mill, including the building of new natural pipelines that would cut the mill's fuel costs. Patriarch Partners, a private equity firm, acquired the Gorham mill in May.