Dear 7th District State Legislators

The Laurelhurst Manor Condominium Homeowners Association members penned a letter in support of restarting the mill. You can read it in full below:

We write today to express the support of Laurelhurst Manor Condominium Homeowners Association for Ponderay Industries and Merkle Standard. These businesses have shown that
they are invested in the Pend Oreille County community and economy. Many of our members are longtime Pend Oreille County residents and want to share how important we believe these businesses are to our community.

Our Association represents 20+ homeowners in a neighborhood within the City of Newport, the county seat of Pend Oreille County. Many of our residents and family members, including children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, were employed at the former Ponderay Newsprint papermill, and we have seen firsthand the adverse impacts from the mill closure. The potential to restart that operation has injected an excitement and hope into our community. The prospect of Ponderay Industries creating as many as 150 family-wage earning jobs would be a huge boost to our local economy.

In addition, since starting business in Usk, Merkle Standard has been a good corporate citizen, providing support to many worthy causes in the county. Many of the organizations Merkle Standard has given monetary donations to are near and dear to the hearts of our residents, including donations to the local high schools, the purchase of AEDs for all Pend Oreille County Sheriff vehicles, and large donations to two local American Legion Halls. Merkle Standard has proven ti is part of their culture to engage directly, beyond financial support, with our community. For example, early on, Merkle Standard held several town hall meetings, allowing residents to learn about the company, and Ponderay Industries hosted a reunion for former papermill employees, reengaging our already skilled workforce.

These businesses bring support and positivity to Pend Oreille County, something we have been missing for too long. The business environment in our County can be challenging to navigate. we believe largely because of the Pend Oreille Public Utility District (POPUD), yet Merkle Standard and Ponderay Industries have stepped up to that challenge. One reason we at Laurelhurst Manor feel compelled to reach out is because of the unfair and poor business practices we experienced first-hand with the POPUD, when they charged our residents a total of $6,181.75 in”corrected” billing for their mistake in installing the wrong metering equipment.
Add to that the POPUD’s sale of all Box Canyon power to Clark County PUD, done in a manner with almost no opportunity for public involvement with questionable financial benefit for the residents of Pend Oreille County. We cannot help but understand the frustration businesses in general have in operating here.

We, the residents of Laurelhurst Manor, applaud Merkle Standard and Ponderay Industries for bringing back industry and hope into our community. We support their efforts and look forward
to seeing not only the papermill back in operation but the positive impact that will have on so many others in the service, hospitality, and logging industries.

We thank you for your service to our community and hope that you will continue to support Ponderay Industries, Merkle Standard, and other businesses that we hope will follow.