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Park Falls Paper Mill Sold Again

The Park Falls Paper Mill.
Ben Meyer/WXPR
The Park Falls Paper Mill.

The Park Falls Paper Mill has been sold once again.

The mill has been sitting idle since last spring when the former owners went into receivership.

Park Falls Mayor Michael Bablick said the paper mill was bought at the end of August by Wisconsin Paper Personal Property, LLC and Wisconsin Paper Real Property, LLC, a subsidiary of Maynard Industries.

That company could liquidate it.

But Bablick hopes talks with operating groups will go well so that it can reopen this fall.

He said the same company had bought a mill in a similar situation in Appleton with the intent to liquidate but ended up being convinced to keep it intact.

“I believe they remained an equity partner for a while and they were bought out, but that mill is still running, and their initial intent was to scrap it there as well,” said Bablick.

No matter which route they end up taking, Bablick said a decision will need to be made this fall.

The Paper Mill relies on running machinery to heat the building during the winter months. Bablick said with the machines off, the machinery and building likely wouldn’t all make it through the winter.

Plus, there’s the mill workers.

Some have been on unemployment since the Paper Mill shut down this spring.

They’re either running out of unemployment payments or at the very least lost the extra pandemic-relief that ended Monday.

Bablick said they need to know if they can count on the mill reopening or if need to look elsewhere for work.

“It’s not really fair to the people or the firms that they would work for a couple weeks and then leave. It’s not fair to anybody the employees or the people they’d be potentially working for,” he said.

Though, he says this time around, the reopening is less important in terms of job losses for the city.

“There is a historic demand for workers in this area in manufacturing. Many companies are running 20, 30, 40, maybe even 50 employees short,” he said.

Bablick wants to the mill to reopen because he believes it will be in a unique position to provide a valuable product.

With climate change and the demand for clean energy, Bablick thinks more people will seek out biofuels.

He believes that demand coupled with the infrastructure bill currently sitting in the U.S. House could set the Park Falls Paper Mill up for success.

“There aren’t a whole lot of places where you break down wood in its constituent parts like a paper mill. I just think that there will be an opportunity lost for that changing wood market if this ends up turning into a liquidation,” said Bablick.

One of the operators in talks with Maynard Industries to get the mill running again is the Park Falls Mill Cooperative.

That group is largely dependent on a loan from the state government.

One version of the so-called ‘Bill Mill’ was vetoed Governor Evers.

A new version has been introduced by Democrat members of the state legislature, but no Republican’s have co-signed.

If it ends up being liquidated, Bablick says the City of Park Falls passed a comprehensive salvage ordinance in 2019 to help protect the city.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.