Sawmill reopens in Sonora

6:35 PM, Oct 12, 2011   |    comments
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SONORA, CA - The sawmill industry returns to Sonora after closing down its century-old mill in 2009.

The Sierra Pacific Sawmill had its reopening ceremony Wednesday morning, but operations had began in July with the rehiring of 150 employees.

"I got a call from my old manager that they would be opening back up and wanted me back," sawer Bryan Peck said.
"It was a Godsend. This is what I love doing."

The Sierra Pacific Sawmill, one of only two in the region, closed two years ago in what management called "the perfect storm" - the recession, a decline in the construction and banking industries, and a lack of timber.

Officials at the mill said it was able to reopen with the support of the community and has a more solid plan to stay in business.

"With most industries, there will be risk," Sierra Pacific Industries community manager Mark Luster said. "We're using all new technology. The saw itself working with computers can cut the maximum value out of each log. There's virtually no waste. We maximize our ability to use raw material."

The computer program used by operators was created by the mill and training and maintenance is done in house. The computer program scans each log and determines how many boards can be cut from one log, then adjusts the saw for each cut.

The sawmill finds its timber supply from private auctions or in partnership with the Forest Service in thinning out areas to prevent wildfires. The entire sawmill also operates off its own clean energy source, burning unusable sawdust and bark to generate a steam powered electricity.

The sawmill plans on employing another 150 workers in the upcoming months.


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