The last log

Krysta
Krysta Carroll
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AbitibiBowater workers share their thoughts on the end of a century of papermaking

Workers from AbitibiBowater shared their thoughts about processing the last lot of wood at the mill here Wednesday. AbitibiBowater stopped paper production in Grand Falls-Windsor this week, meaning hundreds of people will be out of work.

The workers will be paid until March 28 and will receive severance pay.

"It's pretty sad. It's hard to talk about. It's all ending too quick. It's just striking home to people now and it's just the realization that this is the end of it and there is no more wood going to go through these drum barkers. ... I'm 58, so I'm one of the lucky ones. I'll get a bit of pension out of it, but there are a lot of fellows here that are not old enough."

Carl Budgell, control room assistant operator at the AbitibiBowater paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor, puts the last log for production on the chipper belt at the mill Wednesday. Budgell cut a piece of the log off to make souvenir plaques for A Tower crew

Grand Falls-Windsor - Workers from AbitibiBowater shared their thoughts about processing the last lot of wood at the mill here Wednesday. AbitibiBowater stopped paper production in Grand Falls-Windsor this week, meaning hundreds of people will be out of work.

The workers will be paid until March 28 and will receive severance pay.

"It's pretty sad. It's hard to talk about. It's all ending too quick. It's just striking home to people now and it's just the realization that this is the end of it and there is no more wood going to go through these drum barkers. ... I'm 58, so I'm one of the lucky ones. I'll get a bit of pension out of it, but there are a lot of fellows here that are not old enough."

- Carl Budgell, control room assistant operator, 35 years at the mill

"It's a really sad, sad time for all of us here in the mill. For me, personally, it's a lonely feeling inside. There are so many people going to be hurt and that are looking for jobs. There are a lot of people that have high mortgages, they have children. There is a guy on the shift that has a five-year-old and a two-year-old. My heart bleeds for him. It's a real feeling that when we leave this mill, when she finally closes in March, that we may never see these guys again.

"Up here (in the wood room), it's a funny feeling that it's an era that's coming to an end. Reality is hitting in and it's a funny feeling inside to know that there is another step in your life now which is going to unfold without the mill. Plus, it's going to be strange, too, because I don't live too far from the mill and (I) hear the mill whistle blowing, and actually on summer nights you can hear the drum barkers rolling around, so it's going to be an awful empty feeling for me. We're losing something that was a part of us."

- Peter Curran, control room operator, 34 years at the mill

"It's a sad state. It has been here for 100 years, so for that point alone, that was what Grand Falls was all about. You think Grand Falls, you think paper-making and the mill. As a worker here, I'm 45 years old so I'm very saddened, and where do I go from here? The world economy, the Canadian economy, is in a downslide. Do I try to upgrade my education a bit? Or try to go look for a job right off the bat and try to bring in money? The jobs are not there anymore. It's a sad state. I think it's starting to sink in with everybody."

- Pat Healey, feed belt operator, 22 years with the company

"I was the last one to put the last stick of production wood on the entry ladder of the wood room. Putting that last grab of wood on that ladder, I never ever thought I'd see that day until I was 58 and ready to retire.

"The way we feel today is everybody is just going around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off. We don't know what to do. This mill should never shut. This mill is making money. ... It's crazy to let this go. I don't understand it."

- Glen King, heavy equipment operator, 32 years with the company

Geographic location: Grand Falls, Grand Falls-Windsor

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