TAMA, Iowa (From news reports) -- An Iowa paper mill is closing after being in operation for more than 100 years.
In a first-quarter earnings report released Tuesday, Graphic Packaging International said it will close its recycled paperboard mill in Tama in the second quarter of 2023. A filing with Iowa Workforce Development shows the company will lay off 85 workers, effective June 2.
Mayor Doug Ray said Graphic Packaging International purchased the facility earlier this year with the intention of eventually closing it. Ray said the June closure was sooner than expected.
A Graphic Packaging International official provided the following statement:
"I can confirm that on May 2, Graphic Packaging announced the decision to close our recycled paperboard mill in Tama, Iowa. It is anticipated that the closure will be completed by June 2023. We are committed to assisting our affected employees over the coming weeks. They are encouraged to apply for other positions at GPI if they are interested and qualified, and we will provide outplacement services. We had previously publicly communicated that this mill would eventually close based on other projects in our recycled paperboard network."
With the mill's closure comes another concern: the city says Cherry Lake, which is right next to the mill, could dry up.
"It's about waist deep, but you sink about knee deep in the silt, which is kind of going to be an issue," said James Shefchik, who was born and raised in the area.
Some people are worried about what the future holds for the area. In addition to providing a nice sight and a place for people to fish, others enjoy walking the trail around the lake.
On the other hand, there are people like Shefchik who are hopeful that people's love for the area will bring about a solution.
"We still have some pride left, and there's enough people, and I think, enough resources that hopefully we can keep this place going," said Shefchik.