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PALCO

Town of Scotia hopeful, cautious towards Palco decision

By Donna Tam
The Times-Standard
June 7, 2008

Pacific Lumber Co. employees and Scotia residents are feeling cautious but relieved that the company’s bankruptcy saga may be coming to an end.

“I think if everybody does what they say they are going to do, then it will be a good plan for the town, for the company and the employees,” said Huey Long, vice president of mill operations, adding that he is also a little hesitant.

“We still have the appeal in front of us and the execution of all the plans, so there’s still a lot to be done,” Long said. “But we’re one step closer.”
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge’s decision to confirm the Mendocino Redwood reorganization plan comes after Palco’s 18 months in bankruptcy. Residents may not be ready to celebrate just yet, since there is still an appeal process for the decision.

But Karen Bartleson, another Palco employee, said she is relieved there may be a solution to the company’s bankruptcy. The Scotia native has been working for Palco for 39 years.

“I hope it’s a good thing,” she said, adding that she hopes the plan can return the company to its glory days.

The 140-year-old timber company founded the town, where most of the employees and their families live. Since Palco owns Scotia, residents have gone through the wringer along with the company. And while some are anxious to see the plan come to fruition, others are wary of the change.
Brooke Martin, 19, a third-generation Scotia resident, said the plans have been a frequent discussion topic for her family. Her grandfather, father and brothers all have worked for Palco.
“It’s just kind of unnerving knowing that Palco isn’t going to be owned by the same company anymore,” she said. “It’s kind of emotional. I’m third generation here, so I’m kind of nervous.”
Martin said she has mixed feelings about the decision, since most of her family works at the town’s power plant, which she thinks hasn’t been addressed satisfactorily in the plan.

“It is a relief that they’re still going to keep the mill running, but you don’t really know what they have in store for us in the future,” Martin said.

While others are being cautious, Sal Steinberg, the vice principal of the town’s elementary school, has allowed himself to enjoy the decision. He said he is ecstatic about what it could mean for the school.

“I think that this will help ensure the long-term stability of the school, which is such a key element to this community,” Steinberg said. “We got the money to modernize the building, and now the town will be secured. We’re really excited by the possibilities in the future.”

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