Roan Mountain sawmill expansion will create 25 new jobs

John Thompson • Updated Mar 29, 2018 at 8:54 PM

ROAN MOUNTAIN — An old sawmill in Roan Mountain, whose reopening was first reported on May 8, 2017, by the Johnson City Press is back in the news.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and New River Hardwoods Inc. officials announced Thursday that the lumber company will invest $3.8 million in its operations in Roan Mountain.

New River Hardwoods plans to create approximately 25 manufacturing and production jobs in Carter County. The company will install new equipment and convert its Roan Mountain log yard into a lumber manufacturing facility.

“I’d like to thank New River Hardwoods for investing in Roan Mountain and creating job opportunities in Northeast Tennessee,” Rolfe said. “It’s always an encouraging sign when an existing business chooses to expand in Tennessee. New River Hardwoods’ $3.8 million investment is terrific news and I look forward to the positive impact these 25 new jobs will have on Carter County residents.”

“This is great news for Carter County,” Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey said. I wish New River Hardwoods the utmost success.” Humphrey went on to say the new jobs in manufacturing are especially good news for the county’s economy.

Carter County played a key role in getting New River’s Roan Mountain operations going last year. New River had purchased the old sawmill from Wayne Holtsclaw in 2004. The company shut down operations in 2009.

When New River was restarting operations at the sawmill in 2017, the company’s president, H. Wayne Law, and vice president of operations came to the Carter County Highway Committee to propose a change to the Miller Hollow Road, which runs around the mill site.

At that time, Law told the committee members New River was investing $2 million in the sawmill and the company had already placed $150,000 in a down payment for new equipment. With those improvements, Law said the mill would employ 15 people.

At that time, the road made an ’S’ curve around the property and came between the sawmill and the the plant offices and break room.

There had been no accidents, but with logging trucks and other equipment operating around the sawmill, the New River executives suggested a land swap with the county that would eliminate the curve in favor of a new road around the perimeter of the sawmill.

Carter County Highway Superintendent Roger Colbaugh said at the time that he was for the change and estimated it would cost the county about $36,000. He said the funds would come from his department’s fund reserves.

New River Hardwoods is headquartered in Beckley, W.Va. The company operates plants in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The company began lumber production in 1991 and produces more than 40 million board feet of high quality lumber annually.

In addition to its Roan Mountain location, New River Hardwoods operates mill worlds, dry kilns and a sawmill in Mountain City, a sawmill near Cumberland Gap and a log and lumberyard in Erwin.

“New River Hardwoods appreciates all the support provided by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Carter County mayor’s office and county commissioners,” Law said. “We look forward to starting production at the site this spring and are excited about providing positive economic opportunities in the Roan Mountain community.”

The company will be hiring to fill many full-time positions, including machine operators, electricians, maintenance personnel, lumber packers, rolling stock operators, lumber graders, and shipping/lumber tally clerks. Pay ranges vary from the entry level of $9 per hour up to $20 per hour, depending on experience and qualifications.

Benefits include health, dental, vision and life insurance plans, paid holidays and vacations and a 401k plan with employer matches.

More information can be obtained online or by visiting the location at 136 Miller Hollow Road, Roan Mountain, or by calling 423-579-3864.

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