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Harrisville Dry Kiln auction set for late October

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HARRISVILLE — An auction has been scheduled for later this month at the shuttered Harrisville Dry Kiln plant, but company officials still claim they would prefer to sell the business as a whole.

“We’d love to,” Andrew T. Porter, spokesman for Bestway Enterprises Inc., Cortland, which has operated the mill as HDK Wood Products Inc., said of the direct sale option. “We’d prefer that. That’s the best for the area, and that’s the best way to do that.”

However, if no buyer comes forward soon, Tennessee-based auction company Associated Auction & Liquidation Co. is poised to auction off the 8023 Washington St. property and its contents on Oct. 26, beginning at 10 a.m.

Indications are that the auctioneer on that day would try to sell the entire business first, but, if no offers are deemed sufficient, would then proceed with the piecemeal sale of its equipment and other assets, according to county Economic Development Director Eric J. Virkler.

The auction page lists 5 pages worth of potential sale items, including various saws, tools, forklifts, trailers and even buildings.

The mill, which has employed roughly 30 people, closed at the end of July. Mr. Porter indicated that the move was made by his company purely for financial reasons.

County legislators recently approved the reallocation of $1,500 to advertise the mill site on an international timber association’s web site.

Mr. Virkler said his office also has contacted roughly a dozen lumber mill companies from throughout the Northeastern U.S., along with a number of local business owners, to see if any would have interest in the site.

“We tried to get information out to people,” he said.

The county additionally received notice about six weeks ago through Empire State Development Corp. of a company looking for some type of saw mill facility, so information about the Harrisville site was provided to that state agency, Mr. Virkler said.

“That’s still open,” he said.

With 30 jobs already lost at the end of last year due to the closure of the Interface Sealing Solutions Inc. in Croghan, Mr. Virkler said he remains hopeful, although not fully optimistic, that someone will come forward to reopen the mill.

Paragon Laminated Wood Products, Lakeville, New Brunswick, started up the dry kiln plant in October 1998, and Bestway took over operations in August 1999. A sawmill was added in 2006.

The mill has traditionally steam-dried lumber in the kilns, run it through a planer and sold it to manufacturers for use in a variety of products, including door frames and utility poles.

Bestway has seven years left on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement on the mill, according to officials with the Lewis County IDA, which technically owns the land on which the mill was built and administers the PILOT.

However, that arrangement likely would not preclude sale of the property, IDA officials said.

Bestway in August also shut down its wood pressure-treatment plant in the town of Fowler, leaving eight employees out of work.

However, company officials said the closures were not directly connected, as the plants relied on different raw materials.

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