May 1, 2013 6:38 PM by Tara Oster - KAJ News
COLUMBIA FALLS - Thirty new jobs opened up when the Evergreen sawmill recently restarted production, and they added one more employee to the schedule.
Senator Max Baucus joined employees at the sawmill for a work day. The Democrat, who recently announced his retirement, periodically travels across the state lending a hand in various jobs.
"And the more physical the work is the better. So they had me working on this edger over here that was physical work. I got a little tired. Made a few mistakes, that's fine, but I hope I didn't slow down production very much because we've got to get a lot of lumber out of here to sell for Montana homes and homes around the country," Baucus said.
Plum Creek reopened the Evergreen Sawmill just last month after it closed in 2009 as demand for stud lumber declined. Plum Creek Vice President Tom Ray says the demand is back up and the sawmill is ready to deliver.
"We are going to produce 40 million board feet of studs a year and part of that will be consumed in the state and part of that will be shipped out of state as well.
Ray says the 30 new jobs the mill provides mean about 1.5 million dollars of payroll going back into the local economy.
New jobs is exactly the reason Sen. Baucus chose to spend a day working at the sawmill.
"I want to highlight whatever one can do to get more jobs in the Flathead and certainly timber production, lumber production is a large part of it."
Even though Sen. Baucus is retiring, he still has an important goal as far as his work days are concerned, "I want to reach 100 pretty quickly and that shouldn't be hard to do."
Ray also told us that re-starting production at the Evergreen Sawmill is a direct result of the housing market rebound.