Mystery Surrounds Newton Falls Mill And Its Future

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It seemed like such good news.

At the 11th hour, just as the mill's machines were about to be sold off one by one, a mystery bidder swooped in and offered $2.1 million for everything.

The company running the auction even told reporters the mystery bidder planned to put the mill back to work.

But Friday, the mystery bidder remained just that - a mystery.

No name surfaced.

The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency had been considering fronting some money for a deal to buy the plant.

But at a closed door meeting Friday afternoon, the group decided it was too risky.

"All of a sudden, somebody swoops in, we don't know who, that says they're going to operate that mill. I'm hoping as much as anybody else that that's true," said Mark Hall, town of Fine supervisor and IDA member.

In the nearby community of Star Lake, the paper mill was the main source of jobs for years.

The uncertainty of Thursday's sale means the community will have to wait a little longer to see what happens to the plant.

"Obviously the mill is a key asset. It's very important to us. We're trying to determine what the status is right now and what role, if any, the IDA can play in going forward," said Patrick Kelly of the IDA.

Meanwhile, some of the people who bid on individual pieces of equipment - and had their bids voided by the last minute mystery bidder - have
lodged complaints and may take legal action.

We repeatedly tried to reach the mill's current owner, Scotia Investments, for comment.

However, our calls were not returned.

See our earlier report:

Despite fears, there may still be hope for the idled Newton Falls Fine Paper Mill to resume production.

That's because the mill property and its equipment has been purchased at auction by a mystery buyer.
 
The mill's inventory was being sold at an auction in Syracuse Thursday. Economic development officials feared the lack of equipment would kill any chances the mill would reopen.
 
7 News has learned the mill's current owner, Scotia Investments of Nova Scotia, has accepted a single bid for all the equipment from "an international group."
 
That bid was 10 percent higher than the total bids made during the auction for separate lots of the mill's contents.
 
Mark Fleckenstein, a group analyst for Continental Plants -- the company that handled the auction -- says "the buyer came in at the end of the day with the overall bid and the plan is to restart the mill."
 
Fleckenstein would not identify the buyer.
 
In a related development, the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency is meeting in a special closed-door session at noon Friday to discuss the situation.
 
Close to 100 workers lost their jobs when the mill stopped operating in 2010.
Friday, December 19, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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