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Joyce Endee

Scrapping Groveton mill not a done deal yet

April 06, 2011
A decision as to whether or not to sell the older portion of the former Wausau paper mill in Groveton for its value as scrap metal has not yet been made, explained Jerry Epstein of Perry Videx in a Monday afternoon telephone interview. The decision will, however, be probably be made in the next two weeks.

Perry Videx is a used process equipment dealer with locations in the U. S. and in Latin America, England, Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia.

Epstein owns the mill jointly with William Firestone of Capital Recovery Group in a company formed for that purpose: Groveton Acquisitions LLC of Enfield, Conn.

Epstein said that he and Firestone have diligently looked for buyers for the mill property, willing to purchase it "as is."

Wausau, he noted, had made it difficult to sell by restricting the options. The mill could not be sold to a company that would use it to make paper, and the papermaking machinery could not be sold for use in the U. S., Epstein said.

"Nobody has made us a reasonable offer," Epstein said. "For two years, we've looked to reposition the real estate."

Now the price of scrap iron and metal — commodities on the world market — have risen substantially, and so he and Firestone are looking seriously at the option of selling the older portion of the building for scrap.

"The decision to do so has not been made, however," Epstein said.

If, however, they do decide to go the scrap route, they would retain the newest section of the mill: the 40,000-square-foot warehouse and the offices plus the rail siding, Epstein said.

Should they move forward to have the part of the facility torn down, they would the clear the site where anything was removed and put in "some nice plantings," he explained.

It is also possible that they would decide to donate one or two parcels to the town of Northumberland. They have already donated one, he noted.

When he comes to the North Country to work on finding a buyer for the mill, Epstein said that he stays either at the Cabot Motor Inn in Lancaster or at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield. He has not yet stayed at the Omni Mount Washington in Bretton Woods, however.

Epstein recalled staying at the Mount Washington Hotel and climbing the tallest peak in the Presidential Range when he was a boy of about 10, shortly after the end of World War II. He pointed out that the world has changed substantially since those long-ago days, however.

Wausau Papers stopped making paper at its Groveton mill near the end of December 2007.

According to the state Department of Employment Security, the Groveton mill site once employed more than 1,000 workers. In 2005, two paper mills were still in operation, one employing 108 workers and the other around 300.

Only 25 miles to the east, the city of Berlin lost its pulp mill in May 2006.

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