Judge delays decision on Appleton Coated

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COMBINED LOCKS, Wis. (WBAY) - The future is uncertain for more than 600 employees of Appleton Coated, a papermill in Combined Locks. Employees were notified Wednesday they were being laid off as the company, in receivership, is up for sale.

Appleton Coated paper mill
Appleton Coated paper mill in Combined Locks (WBAY photo)

Even with one buyer ready to close a deal, local and county leaders are working to prevent the sale in hopes of saving the mill.

Appleton Coated has been part of the Combined Locks community for more than a hundred years. Now in receivership, the mill went up for auction earlier this week. As part of the bidding process, more than 600 workers were abruptly told Wednesday they were being laid off immediately as no buyers wanted to purchase that liability.

"We're all temporarily laid off 'til the closing date, and then they'll have more information whether it's permanent and they shut the mill down or if they try to run, so..." says mill employee Nick Weyenberg.

That uncertainty about the mill and its workforce isn't sitting well with Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. The possibility of the mill shutting down is very real as it's unclear what the potential new owner would do.

Dennis Havinga has worked at the mill for more than 40 years. He said, "We were hoping that we'd have a buyer, somebody that would sustain the business, but we're hoping that maybe by the end of the month that might actually happen so that's the best we can hope for."

Some of that hope may come from an objection filed in Outagamie County court by Nelson and the Combined Locks village president. Nelson says there are other companies interested in buying the mill and keeping it running, they just weren't given an opportunity.

He adds, "Two companies have contacted me personally, telling me that the process under the terms of this receivership has not given them enough time to be able to do their due diligence, to do their research, and put forward a bid."

An Outagamie County judge heard the case on Friday, but delayed a decision until Sept. 25. All sides are scheduled to return to court Monday at 2:30 p.m.

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