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Published: Tuesday, 7/18/2006

Sawmill in Hicksville reopens after year hiatus

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

HICKSVILLE, Ohio - After nearly a year's shutdown because the emerald ash borer quarantine made it tough to get lumber, the saws are again turning at Crook-Miller Co.

The company yesterday reopened its Hicksville location, with 15 employees, including 11 who were before the mill was shuttered in October.

Steve Lamier, general manager of Crook-Miller and senior vice president for its parent company, Baker McMillen Co. of Akron, said "it was fantastic" the plant could reopen.

"We have a great work force there and we plan to continue to grow it and move forward."

The sawmill operation is Hicksville's oldest employer, having started in the village in 1874. It closed when it could not get enough supply of ash trees from southern Michigan.

The trees are turned into raw material and shipped to another site to make wooden tool handles, but the quarantines in place to try to stem the spread of emerald ash borer disease that ravages trees cut the company's supply by 50 percent, Mr. Lamier said.

During the shutdown, the building was used as a warehouse.

"It was a definite psychological blow to the Hicksville community [when it closed] because the plant's been a mainstay in the town for such a large time," said Matt Gilroy, assistant director of the Defiance County Economic Development office.

Under an arrangement with local, state, and federal officials, Crook-Miller can bring lumber from Michigan and Indiana through the quarantined area that includes almost all of northwest Ohio, because it has agreed within 96 hours to process those logs. The company cannot haul ash logs through non-quarantined areas.

The company spent $120,000 on machinery that will help grind off remove the bark and grind the wood to such small particles that the emerald ash borer beetle and any larvae will be destroyed, Mr. Lamier said.

Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at

mmclaughlin@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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