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Number two paper machine at Panama City Paper Mill makes last reel of paper

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 9:23 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s been almost a month and a half since WestRock made the announcement to close the Panama City Paper Mill. Some would say they never expected the day to come when the panama city paper mill would close its doors for good.

“It’s hard to see it in terms of the mill shutting down. I always figured it was going to be here 300+ years,” Springfield local Sawyer Barrier said.

Just like many in the area, Barrier said he has close family ties to the mill.

“My Dad has worked there for 30 plus years. It’s raised me, my older brother, and my sister,” said Barrier.

Barrier’s dad has worked at the mill for 39 years to be exact, and this week was one more reminder of that coming to an end.

“A friend of mine actually posted yesterday {Monday} of them shutting down the number two machine. I sent my dad that and said, ‘It’s set in stone now,’” said Barrier.

That Facebook post said the “last reel of paper that will ever be made on the number two paper machine at the Panama City West Rock.” A step closer to shutting down, and that’s something Barrier said he gets.

“The way the economy goes and the way everything is going to paperless, there’s no real need for paper,” said Barrier.

And even though Monday was the last reel of paper for this machine, it’s not the last of the memories for those who have worked here over the decades.

Barrier’s friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, tells NewsChannel 7 the number one paper machine will be running until approximately June 1st.

WestRock said the mill will permanently cease operations by June 6th, leaving about 450 employees without a job.

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