Banks, Business, News

City officials react to closure of Hampton Lumber sawmill

Just hours after Hampton Lumber announced the closure of their Banks sawmill, the Banks City Council met for a regularly scheduled city council meeting. The topic soon turned to the sawmill’s closure.

You can listen to the audio of the bulk of the discussion regarding the closure below.

“This afternoon, I took a phone call from Randy Schillinger,” said Banks City Recorder and Assistant City Manager Angie Lanter. “He’s the CEO of Hampton Lumber and he was calling to notify us that they are permanently shutting the Banks location because, with the state restrictions on logging and timberland right now, it’s extremely difficult for them to get timber, enough timber to keep this mill going,” Lanter told the city council.

She added that Schillinger came to Banks Tuesday to deliver the news to the now-former employees at the mill personally.

Lanter said that management staff from Hampton would be in Banks over the next few weeks at the mill to shut everything down.

Banks Mayor Stephanie Jones said she hadn’t yet read a statement from Hampton regarding the closure, and she and other councilors began asking questions regarding how the closure would affect the city.

“It’s not a good thing when we have to have a business close like that,” Jones said.

Lanter said that the city’s income could be reduced because of the sawmill’s closure due to a number of franchise fees and water fees being reduced.

Portland General Electric pays what’s called a privilege tax to the city of Banks, a fee based on a percentage of the total revenue received from customers within city limits.

In 2021, the latest numbers this newspaper had available, Hampton Lumber was the top commercial user of water from Banks’ water system with 479,420 cubic feet of water used that year.

City attorney Dan Kearns pointed out that without the mill operating, it would potentially increase the city’s water capacity, an issue that has in the past seen various curtailments of water use in the summer months and even a development moratorium while the city grappled with a leaking water pipe and limited water supply.

“This is a bummer, and presents lots of opportunity,” said Banks City Council President Pete Edison.

“All that property happens to be in our urban renewal district,” he added, after a brief discussion with another councilor on what might happen to the railroad that runs to the mill if Hampton were to sell the facility.

Where the rail line ends at the edge of city limits is where the route of the Salmonberry Trail could begin, as well as the Banks Vernonia State Trail, both of which are former railroads.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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