Panama City Paper Mill’s number two paper machine makes the last roll of paper

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — It has been almost a month and a half since WestRock announced the closure of the Panama City paper mill. Some will say they never expected the day to come when the Panama City paper mill would shut down for good.

“It’s hard to see it in terms of the plant closing. I always thought it was going to be here for over 300 years,” said Springfield resident Sawyer Barrier.

Like many in the area, Barrier said he has close family ties to the factory.

“My father has been working there for more than 30 years. It lifted me, my older brother and my sister,” Barrier said.

Barrier’s father has worked at the plant for 39 years to be exact, and this week has been yet another reminder of that end.

“A friend of mine actually posted yesterday[Monday]that they were shutting down machine number two. I sent that to my dad and said, ‘It’s set in stone now,'” said barrier.

This Facebook post listed the “last reel of paper that will ever be made on Panama City West Rock’s number two paper machine.” One step closer to closure, and that’s something Barrier said he understands.

“The way the economy is going and the way everything is going paperless, there’s really no need for paper,” Barrier said.

And while Monday was the last roll of paper for this machine, it’s not the last of memories for those who have worked here over the decades.

Barrier’s friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, told NewsChannel 7 that the number one paper machine will run until about June 1.

WestRock said the plant would permanently cease operations by June 6, leaving about 450 employees out of work.

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