The Sun Journal covers the exciting news about Godfrey Forest Products taking over the Androscoggin Mill to manufacture OSB after a year of dormancy, investing hundreds of millions of dollars and creating 125 jobs.

Paper Mill in Jay, Maine

Jay to become a mill town once again

Godfrey Forest Products plans to manufacture a product similar to particleboard at the former Androscoggin Mill, which will create 125 jobs.

JAY — John Godfrey of Godfrey Forest Products announced at a news conference Friday that he plans to manufacture oriented strand board, similar to particleboard, and bring about 125 jobs to the site of the former Androscoggin Mill on Riley Road.

The town will once again be a mill town — making a different product than paper.

The side of the mill closest to state Route 4, where the digester ruptured at Pixelle Specialty Solutions in April 2020, will be torn down and a new 300,000-square-foot facility will be built. Godfrey said the investment would be in the hundreds of millions.

Pixelle stopped making paper products as of March 9, 2023.

It will be about 2½ years before the first plate of OSB board will be manufactured. Godfrey said he will be ordering the specialized equipment and products will be sold in the Northeast. His company sells to Home Depot and Lowe’s, among others, he said.

Godfrey invited Gov. Janet Mills to make the first plate when the plant goes online.

When he started up an OSB plant in New Brunswick, the former Prince of Wales, now King Charles III of the United Kingdom, made the first plate for OSB production when it went online years ago.

“We are very excited that there is good news to share today,” Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said at the news conference.

“It seems for the past several years the big news coming from Jay has been around shutdowns, closures or major disasters so we are very pleased that today is not that,” she said. “Our community has been on a roller coaster ride for many years with the Androscoggin Mill. The digester explosion in 2020 seemed to truly be the beginning of the end and we watched as machines were shut down and multigenerational paper mill employees worked their last days here.”

They have remained hopeful that the positive attributes of this site would be enough to compel other businesses to consider the location, she said.

“We were very pleased when JGT2 (Redevelopment) purchased the property in December (2023) with the goal of redevelopment,” LaFreniere said. “We are now looking to the future of this facility with a renewed hope made stronger by the news here today. We look forward to the continued support of the state of Maine, our congressional delegation and the many others who have been working on our behalf.”

LaFreniere thanked Gov. Mills for her ongoing efforts to help the town.

Mills and her administration, including Commissioner Heather Johnson of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, have worked first with former owner, Pixelle Specialty Solutions of Pennsylvania, and now the new owners based in Kansas, since the digesters exploded at the mill about four years ago. The explosion resulted in the shutting down of the pulp-making process and the wood room.

Mills said she is excited about the project and renewing hope to bring back opportunities in western Maine and mill towns across the state.

Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, said her grandfather, father and husband worked in the paper mill over the years. She learned about time-and-a-half when her husband got his first check.

Keim thanked Godfrey for a new breath of life for the community.

Godfrey said he started looking at the mill after the digesters exploded. He took an option on property in Livermore Falls, but it wasn’t right for what he wanted, he said. When Pixelle announced it would be closing the Jay mill, he pursued that option.

It is a highly logical site, he said. There are plenty of trees in the area, including Eastern white pine used in particleboard and other building materials.

“Not only are we doing the right thing for the forest and the town of Jay, we are doing the right thing for the environment,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey Forest Products was formed in 1979 by John Godfrey. He and his affiliated companies have conceived, financed, constructed and operated manufacturing facilities for engineered wood products. The companies have completed mill developments in three countries on two continents, according to the Godfrey Forest Products website. The company is based in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

“OSB mills have to go where the trees are,” he said.

“We’re thrilled that John decided to position his company here at the Androscoggin Mill,” Joel Gilbert of Livermore, president of Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls Chamber of Commerce, said after the news conference. “We’re so excited for the business community of Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls.”

This is a tremendous opportunity for the town and the region, Charlie Woodworth, executive director of the Greater Franklin Economic and Community Development, said.

He named TimberHP of Madison, the former Madison Paper Mill that was redeveloped, as an example of a success story. It is full of new equipment, new products and workers, he said.

That is the vibrancy that is going to be right here, Woodworth said.

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    John Godfrey of Godfrey Forest Products announced at a news conference Friday that he plans to manufacture oriented strand board, similar to particleboard, and bring about 125 jobs to the site of the former Androscoggin Mill on Riley Road. The side of the mill closest to state Route 4, where the digester ruptured at Pixelle Specialty Solutions in April 2020, will be torn down and a new 300,000-square-foot facility will be built. Godfrey said the investment would be in the hundreds of millions.
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