Two mills to stay idle this week, but one to reopen

PORT ANGELES — K Ply and Interfor Pacific Inc. lumber mills will remain closed this week, leaving their combined 230 employees continuing to collect unemployment.

Another area lumber mill, Portac Inc.’s sawmill in Beaver, will open Monday after closing for two weeks because of high log costs and a weak market,

Portac’s planer mill in Forks didn’t take the same break as its companion mill in Beaver.

A national housing slump and historically low lumber prices are forcing sawmills all over the Northwest to shut down temporarily, slow production or lay off employees.

Housing starts in 2008 are expected to be about half what they were in 2005, said Jon Anderson, publisher of the Eugene, Ore.-based Random Lengths, which tracks the forest product industry.

The 126 workers at K Ply’s plywood mill on Marine Drive in Port Angeles have been collecting unemployment since Nov. 2.

The date to return to work has been rescheduled three times now.

The latest return date — Monday — is no longer in effect.

K Ply’s employee information line — 360-457-1450 — now says that operations will not start up on Monday, as previously announced.

The company’s board of directors will receive a progress report about potential financing at a meeting on Friday, after which more information should be available, the recording says.

K Ply, which produces plywood and treated paper overlays, is owned by Klukwan Inc., an Alaskan Native corporation based in Juneau, Alaska.

In late October 2006, K Ply halted production for a week and also laid off 59 employees, about one-third of its work force, eliminating the graveyard shift.

Production resumed a week later with 126 employees, down from 185.

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