It is still not at all certain if Verso, the Sartell paper mill, will open again for production.
However, the good news is just about everyone is talking about it and offering some form of help, including Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and many congress people. There will be a special session of the state legislature soon to consider how to provide relief for the Duluth area, which was devastated two weeks ago by massive floods. As part of that session, Dayton and others want to consider also possible ways to help Verso restart its production. After the Memorial Day explosion, the plant laid off its 260 workers indefinitely.
One man, Jon Maus of Albany, died in the explosion. Four other workers who were injured were treated and released from the hospital.
At the July 9 Sartell City Council meeting, city administrator Patti Gartland gave an update on the latest happenings concerning Verso. Ninety-two fire departments pitched in, one way or another, in the days and nights following the disaster. The Sartell-LeSauk Fire Department worked more or less around the clock for seven days in the explosion’s aftermath. Gartland said the costs of fighting the fire, containing the blaze and all of the other follow-up work has not been determined yet, although that process is underway. When a total cost is determined, that amount will be submitted to Verso so it, in turn, can present the total to its insurance company.
Gartland said it is the city’s hope some aid will be forthcoming from the state, as other cities where disasters struck have received state help – or at least consideration for some kind of help. She also said the city and Verso have both received very positive impact from the governor and from legislators, most notably from Sen. Michelle Fischbach and Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, both of whom represent the Sartell area in the legislature.