New Idaho sawmill to open in Emmett

Published: Sunday, May 23 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

EMMETT, Idaho — A new sawmill expected to employ 50 people in Gem County in western Idaho is opening in Emmett.

Emerald Forest Products owner Richard Vinson said $4 million in federal economic stimulus money is being used to open the sawmill that will use Douglas and white fir and Ponderosa pine to make lumber for The Home Depot chain and others.

"This is a real sweet spot, because the nearest mill is 120 miles away," Vinson told the Idaho Statesman. "Our goal and direction is to use the whole tree, from stump to store, doing it right."

The jobs will pay more than $10 an hour and include health insurance, he said.

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little said much of the larger wood for the sawmill will come from state land, and the money from the sale of those trees will go to public schools.

"A lot of people with timber are going out of state, and public education is not getting the revenue," he said.

Slash left from logging will be used to produce electricity to power the sawmill. Some of the small wood pieces will be used for horse bedding, said Vinson, adding that the company has a contract to provide horse bedding for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas for the next five years.

Idaho Forest Products Commission Director Betty Munis said it's the first new mill in Idaho since 2006.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for us," Munis said. "We need new jobs and highly skilled workers. The forest industry has been a historical part of our state, and we need to look to the future."

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