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Medite's Rogue River mill may have a buyer

ROGUE RIVER ­ A company has offered to buy Medite's veneer mill here,but officials Monday would not confirm details of the offer on the eve ofits closure.

Medite Controller Bret DeForest said an out-of-town company has madean offer for the mill.

We've essentially accepted it, but I'm not at liberty to say anythingelse right now, he said, declining to name the potential purchaser.

The company sent layoff notices to the 50 workers at the mill in May.About 10 have left for other jobs, leaving 40 to be laid off today.

There will be pizza, chicken and cake at the mill tomorrow (Tuesday),DeForest said Monday. And we'll give out the severance checks. Themill is all cleaned up and ready for someone to come in and operate.

Medite's parent company ­ Valhi Inc., based in Dallas, Texas ­decided to exit forest products altogether last year. The Rogue River millis the last of its wood processing facilities.

Most of the mill was destroyed by a fire in 1992. It was rebuilt andback in full production by early 1994. The site includes 55 acres alongInterstate 5.

Medite lacks the timber resources to continue operating the mill, DeForestsaid, adding that the potential purchaser has timber.

They're hoping to run it, he said. We don't have anyguarantee, but I'm trusting their word to say they'll operate it, at leastfor a while.

The purchaser and Medite have been discussing the potential sale sinceearly May, he said.

Medite, formerly Medford Corp., was Jackson County's largest employer20 years ago, with several mills employing more than 1,700 people. The companyhas been closing mills and reducing the work force since 1989, as publictimber supplies have dwindled.

The company sold its medium-density fiberboard company to Sierra Pine,a California limited partnership that includes Timber Products Co. and SierraPacific Industries of Redding, Calif., for $39 million.

In a separate transaction, Medite sold its 170,000 acres of timberlandto Rogue Resources, a consortium of smaller Southern Oregon timber companies,for $118 million.

Medite's trucking division was sold to TP Trucking Inc., a division ofTimber Products Co. of Springfield, for an undisclosed price.

Medite's lumber mill in White City was closed, unsold, earlier this year.

The company is retaining a 105-acre industrial site near the Rogue ValleyMall formerly occupied by Medford Corp.'s plywood and lumber mills, a 100-acreparcel near the Medford airport and the White City sawmill site, which isabout 17 acres.