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Governor, Lawmakers Concerned About Sartell Paper Mill’s Future [AUDIO]

Abby Faulkner

SARTELL — Just over a day after an explosion rocked the Verso paper mill in Sartell killing one worker and hurting five others, Governor Mark Dayton and area lawmakers are voicing their concerns on whether the plant will be rebuilt.

Governor Mark Dayton speaks to reporters following his aerial tour of the Verso paper mill Tuesday. Sartell Mayor Joe Perske is pictured on the right. (Photo: Jim Maurice, WJON News)

Dayton and lawmakers representing Sartell each voiced their support for mill officials to reopen.  They spoke at a news briefing this afternoon following the Governor’s aerial and ground tour of the area.  Dayton got an overhead view aboard a State Patrol helicopter where he watched fire crews continue to spray water onto a finished paper warehouse where large rolls of paper still burn.

Dayton — recognizing Verso’s role as one of the major taxpayers in the area — pledged Minnesota’s support.  He says the State will do everything it can to get this plant operating again as soon as possible.

Dayton says he needs to know what the needs are for the company for its recovery, what public infrastructure needs there may be and how the state can help retain jobs at the mill.  He says we need to get the plant operating again as soon as possible and offer assistance where we can.

The Governor says he believes the company is committed to the area and is part of the community.  In his words, “We’re going to pull through all together and do what we can do.”

Other area officials spoke at the Governor’s impromptu news briefing, too.

State Senator Michelle Fischbach — who represents the Sartell area —  says once emergency efforts end the focus will be “how do we keep the mill open?”

State Representative Tim O’Driscoll congratulated city and emergency workers for an outstanding job of managing the event — especially during a holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, Sartell Mayor Joe Perske summed up the sentiments of all the lawmakers in saying, “hopefully, we can keep this mill going.”

Hear the news briefing now:

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See More Coverage of the Verso Plant Explosion and Fire in Sartell

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