Emmett jobs, sawmill hang in limbo

EMMETT, Idaho (KBOI) -- At He Brews Coffee in Emmett, store owner David Beck says townspeople are trying to stay upbeat about the economy -- even as the idle Emerald Forest Products sawmill nearby stands as a symbol of unrealized employment.

"(The mood) is getting better. Mostly cause people are getting jobs elsewhere. It's been pretty depressed." Beck said, adding people were really counting on the dozens of jobs the mill was expected to provide.

Steve Mellin moved to Emmett from Oregon last year with his wife and seven children to work at the mill.

"And I got up here, and it was closed," he said. "They were loading everything out. I was surprised. I'll probably head back to Oregon look for jobs."

The Idaho Statesman reports Montana owner Dick Vinson got $4 million in federal economic stimulus money and says he's invested another $7 million of his own money in the project.

But the mill has never really worked - its machinery never functioned as envisioned - and Emerald owes more than $1.9 million to bankers.

A trustee's sale was delayed until later in September, in part to give Vinson time to secure additional funding.

But with a family to feed, Steve Mellin says waiting on the mill is not an option.