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Newton Falls paper mill sold intact

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Newton Falls Fine Paper was sold intact at the conclusion of a day-long auction Thursday in Syracuse to a buyer whose identity remains undisclosed.

“The buyer intends to restore the mill and utilize the infrastructure,” said Mark Fleckenstein, a representative of Continental Plants Group, which conducted the auction. “The mill’s going to go back to work.”

Mr. Fleckenstein said the bid for $2.1 million was 10 percent higher than individual bids made throughout the day for the mill’s equipment. The individual bids were voided at the end of the auction Thursday evening.

“We’ve had some complaints,” Mr. Fleckenstein said.

However, Mr. Fleckenstein said, the owners were within their rights to convey the property however they wanted. Robert G. Patzelt, vice president of corporate development for Scotia Investments, Halifax, Nova Scotia, the parent company of the Newton Falls plant, said he did not have time to answer questions about the sale and was later unavailable.

“The whole thing is confidential,” Mr. Fleckenstein said.

The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency had a special meeting Friday but took no action.

“In light of the uncertainty, we wanted to bring the board together and enlighten them,” Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly said. “We’re waiting to see what happens. We’re not really sure what the status is.”

Auctioneers had been taking individual bids on the equipment and plant inventory since the sale started at 11 a.m. Bids on the plant’s two paper machines were taken early in the bidding.

The machine that had operated when the plant was open received a total of $442,000 in bids on a piecemeal basis. The second machine, which was not in service when the plant was closed by Scotia in 2010, had a top bid as a single lot of $150,000.

“Things were going for a song,” said Renard Franse, who listened to the auction all day online from his home in New Jersey.

Mr. Franse, who is retired, said he worked at the paper mill in the 1970s and wanted to bid on a plant sign if one came up.

“I was going to buy it just for nostalgia,” Mr. Franse said. “It was a big part of my life.”

Many items were left unsold because of a lack of bids, he said.

When the auctioneer voided the previous sales and announced that a single bid was going to supercede all the others, the audience was taken aback, Mr. Franse said.

“I think there was shock and awe,” he said. “They didn’t mention at the beginning of the auction what they were going to do at the end. It wasn’t right. Maybe in the end, it’ll benefit the community.”

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