Zach Volheim

SEELEY LAKE (KPAX) — Another key milestone in the closure of Pyramid Mountain Lumber occurred on Tuesday, as the last load of logs was sent through the mill to be processed.

“It's, it's tough, you know. I'm 61 years old and I gotta look for another job. So that's not a fun thing to do at my age. But I mean, it'll work out,” said Pyramid Mountain Lumber sawmill supervisor Manuel Kesterson.

Pyramid Mountain Lumber is closing its doors for a number of reasons, with one large one being the difficulty of finding enough people to work at the mill.

Mill owner and General Manager Todd Johnson said the mill has been winding down its operations in steps over the past few months.

“You only got four steps. You got the logs coming into the yard. We got to finish them up in the sawmill, finish them up in the planer, and then they go on a truck. It's not too far down the road before the last steps will be taken. Every time you move past one of those steps, it's kind of surreal, kind of emotional because you know done.”

Johnson also remains worried about the future of the forest industry as a whole, especially in light of not only Pyramid's closure but that of Missoula's Roseburg Forest Products.

“There's too much work to be done. There's too much forest health issues, too much fire mitigation issues to be done in this state. We need the manufacturing, the logging, and the byproduct stream in order to get that done” Johnson explained.

So far, some of Pyramid's employees have left after receiving other job offers. And as the steps continue along, the remaining employees will be shifted around to make sure the final operations go smoothly.

Many of the employees are left not knowing what happens next, largely due to the fact that they have worked at the mill for most of their lives.

Some employees, such as head rig operator Charles Wood, are close to retirement age.

“It’s been about 38 years now. I'm at retirement age. So, it's not gonna hurt me as much as everybody else,” he said.

Pyramid Mount Lumber is still in talks with one party to potentially buy the mill but the deal is complicated and it will take time to fully iron everything out.