Commission continues course of action

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2007

LINDEN &8212; Following the announcement of a layoff of 85 workers at Linden Lumber Company, Marengo County Commissioners expressed concern for the situation and say they plan to support their original agreement with the company.

Tucker said the commission will continue to have stipulations met, such as securing an independent audit.

Linden Lumber Company&8217;s Chief Operating Officer Hugh Overmyer said the layoff was not the intent of the company.

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As a result of the lack of funds, Overmyer said the company was forced to downsize a shift. Overmyer would not elaborate as to why the funds were not allotted or for what they were intended to be used.

Overmyer said the company is seeking assistance from the state&8217;s workforce development program for the employees who lost their jobs.

Overmyer said he did not foresee any additional layoffs in the near future but would not commit to that statement.

Overmyer said the company is awaiting the restructuring of their loan with Wachovia.

Commissioner Freddie Armstead echoed Tucker&8217;s sentiments of the commitment the commission made with Linden Lumber.

The county commission last month unanimously approved a loan of $7 million to Linden Lumber Company in an effort to stave off foreclosure and to save approximately 425 jobs at the site. The audit is the first stipulation in a set of four stipulations the county set on the loan agreement of $7 million to Linden Lumber.

The loan has not yet been made. The county is still awaiting the audit results.

The commission has the authority to annul the loan agreement if they are not satisfied with the findings of any of the audits or restructuring agreements.

The loan was to be supplied by only after four stipulations were met to the satisfaction of the county:

An audit of Linden Lumber conducted by an independent agency.

County approval of the restructuring of the loan with Wachovia Bank for the operating line.

County approval of restructuring of the loan with Federal Land Bank.

An independent audit of the assets the county would be taking mortgage on.

Under the agreement, the county will use a bond issue to borrow up to $7 million. They will in turn loan the money to Linden Lumber with an annual interest rate of 5 percent, not to exceed 6.5 percent. The terms of the loan extend for 20 years.

When Linden Lumber leaders approached the county commission about the loan, they first offered to turn the business over to the county and walk away. Overmyer said that their main concern was protecting the 425 jobs.

During a public meeting last month on the loan, employees from Linden Lumber showed up and overflowed a county courtroom to show their support for the loan.

Times staff writer Kelli Wright contributed to this report.