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Maine paper workers return to work at mills

October 24, 2011

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EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine—Gov. Paul LePage on Monday greeted dozens of paper workers who have returned to work in a northern Maine mill that's reopened under a sale brokered by the state.

About 250 workers have resumed making paper at Great Northern Paper Co.'s East Millinocket mill during the past few weeks. The sale of the long-shuttered Katahdin paper mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket to Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, N.H., was completed in late September.

"This was a very long and complicated process but everyone involved was focused on putting Mainers back to work," said the governor, who met with about 50 workers on Monday on a loading dock where paper was being transferred onto railroad cars. "Thank you to the workers that have been patient and are getting back on the job."

The previous owner, Brookfield Asset Management of Toronto, had planned to begin selling equipment in the mills before it decided in July to allow more time to find a buyer. The state helped to facilitate Brookfield's sale to Cate Street. The new company is called Great Northern Paper Co. LLC.

Cate spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne said workers returned to the East Millinocket mill in stages over the last three weeks, and its paper machine was started about a week ago.

Cate president and chief executive officer, John Halle, attended Monday's event.