Newberg mill closing, leaving 200 workers jobless before holidays

Newberg paper mill to close, costing 200 jobs

NEWBERG, Ore. -- For more than 100 years the paper mill in Newberg has provided jobs and operated as a staple in the community. But come next month, things are changing.

"We're going from a very good job to having no jobs at all," said Scott Mead. He has worked at the paper mill, running the boilers, for more than 20 years.

Mead got the news of the mill's closure late last week. Recently WestRock, a company out of Georgia, announced it bought SP Fiber Holdings. In the deal, it acquired a mill in Dublin, Georgia and the mill in Newberg.

Another employee told KGW the mill in Georgia was not expected to close.

Mead said he received word on Thursday that the paper mill would shut down indefinitely at the middle of November. The move will leave roughly 200 workers without jobs right before the holidays.

"It was kind of a shock to us all. My daughter's six, so she doesn't understand the whole 'don't have a job' thing," said Mead.

The Newberg community is coming together to help. Sharon Moore started a Facebook page to support the many families who are facing hard times ahead.

"That's like a week or two before Thanksgiving, so that was what really got my heart strings going," said Moore.  She said she hopes the Facebook page will help the suddenly unemployed workers find new jobs.

"Maybe if you're young enough you can get a construction job? But when you're older, that's when it kind of gets trickier," she added.

Mead said for a lot of the workers, the idea of finding another job is daunting.  

"I'm very concerned about the job search," he said.  "There's a lot of us that are 50-ish, that are going to have to go out and look for new jobs."

KGW reached out to representatives at the paper mill for comment, but they declined to speak on camera.

Community members met at the Newberg Church of Christ Monday night to discuss how to help families with job searches and with the holidays.  They talked about toy and food drives.  They even discussed helping the workers with building resumes. 

"The community is coming to help," said Birdy Rinkes, mother and wife of mill workers.  "Trying really hard to look forward."

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