Hill City mill set to close in 60 days, community meets news with shock, sadness
HILL CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A day after the announcement of the Hill City sawmill has been met with shock by the community.
President of Neiman Forest Products, Jim Neiman, said the closure of the sawmill would eliminate 120 jobs in the Black Hills town. Neiman told Black Hills Fox News that closing the mill was the toughest decision he has made in his life.
“The lack of production by the federal government the last two years and the way they started out this year and the amount of production has given us no choice but to curtail production,” Neiman said. “The Forest Service evaluates the forest and determines what the allowable cut is to make sure this forest is sustainable. The argument is what we had been cutting is not sustainable. This forest ever since the 60s has been growing way more than we cut.”
Hill City mayor Kathy Skorzewski said that the loss has an obvious financial impact. Neiman Enterprises has been operating in the Black Hills for more than 85 years, with 53 of those years of operation in Hill City.
“The bigger loss is to those directly impacted by the loss of employment and their families,” Skorzewski said in a press release. “The mill represented a way of life, unique to the Black Hills. A piece of history that tells our story. While we cannot control what has happened, we will be here for each other, our community, our Hill City family. We will look for creative ways to support those directly impacted by this loss.”
Skorzewski said the news has been met with “shock and sadness.”
Neiman says he notified the workers about the closure on Monday night. He says they have been extremely loyal to the company. Neiman also says the mill is one of his best operations.
“I can only say thanks for the loyalty that they have provided to our company and sorry,” Neiman said.
Neiman says the mill will close in 60 days. He says he has been speaking to officials, including Governor Kristi Noem, to help his employees find new jobs.
“This is devastating news for the Sawmill’s employees, their families, and the Hill City community,” Noem said. “Sadly, this could have been avoided if the federal government properly managed the Black Hills National Forest, but the U.S. Forest Service continues to ignore recommendations from the experts on allowable timber sales.”
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