Rough and Ready Lumber Mill Forced To Close, What's Next For Laid-Off Employees?

, Posted: Thu, May 2 2013 at 10:43 PM, Updated: Fri, May 3 2013 at 12:33 AM

A devastating loss for Southern Oregon

The last saw mill in Josephine County is forced to close up shop.      taking 88 jobs with them.  But for the first time last night, Rough and Ready Lumber employees gathered to hear what's going to happen to them.  NBC5's Laura Cavanaugh reports.

After 90 years in business, Rough and Ready Lumber, once a lifeline to families in the Illinois Valley, is shutting its doors.

"This town needs Rough and Ready."

Kathy Poydack's  61 year old husband is losing his job of 30 years.

And he's not the only one.

"Many of them have been working here 30 years and  haven't held other positions outside of the mil.l"

That's why Worksource Oregon and a number of community partners, even official from Salem, came  together Wednesday to provide coaching and guidance to the 88 recently laid off employees from the Cave Junction mill.

On  Wednesday night,  more than  50 displaced employees packed the Selma Community Education Center.

Displaced workers poured  out of the meeting with packets in hand, too stunned to talk, contemplating  their future.  Nearly five percent of its population has been handed a pink slip.

"To be honest with ya, a lot of people are going to be moving because there's no jobs and a lot of people are probably going to be losing their houses," said Podak.

The problem, Rough and Ready, the last saw mill in the area cutting pine and fir, says the mill has been unable to secure a sufficient supply of logs from the surrounding federal forest to remain competitive.

"We feel like we're in the middle of a grocery store starving to death while the fruit rots around us," said owner Jennifer Krauss Phillippi.

While half of the forest growth was harvested historically, now only seven percent of annual forest growth is available for harvest.

But that argument is -- a moot point. The mill is closing and taking with it the jobs which once fueled this community.

Worksource Oregon is establishing a temporary resource room in Cave Junction at the Illinois Family Coalition Center starting on May 14th.

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