Gov. Dayton urges discussion of state aid to help Sartell paper plant after explosion

There’s still no official word on when or if the Verso Paper plant in Sartell will fully reopen after an explosion and fire in May idled 250 workers, but Gov. Mark Dayton has urged the company to talk with officials about possible state aid.

The governor is expected to call a special session of the Legislature soon to consider assistance for Duluth and other communities damaged by flooding in June, and the governor seems interested in including help for Sartell and the paper plant.

The St. Cloud Times says the governor sent a letter Monday to Verso officials, saying that Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Mark Phillips will work with the company if it wants in on the special session.

Dayton noted that a special session won’t last long, and that the state and the company must be prepared to make it happen.

Sartell city officials were told late last month that the company is evaluating its plans for the Sartell site. Insurance coverage is still being clarified, said a story by KNSI radio.

Sartell City Administrator Patty Gartland said there were signs that the company is anxious to get the plant back in action, because of the thorough analyses and meetings with state officials.

“I continue to feel very optimistic and I think the plant manager just reinforced that,” Gartland said. “The scope of detail that is being undertaken to analyze just exactly what it is going to take to get back in production would suggest that there is an absolute, very deliberate effort going on to put them back in operation.”

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