CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. — Josephine County’s last sawmill announced it’s closing and all employees will be laid off in the next few weeks.
The remaining employees at Rough and Ready have about three weeks left before they’re let go and many are starting to look for new jobs. Employees say having a background in carpentry or electrical work may help in their search, but many are concerned for their younger co-workers who don’t have that type of training.
The maintenance supervisor, Larry Mason, who’s worked there for 20 years says he has a family: one child who wants to go to college and his son who works with him. The supervisor believes many of his co-workers will be traveling out of Oregon to find jobs, or worse, end up unemployed and desperate.
“Some guys have been here for 40 years. Still not able to retire. So, figure that one out. What are they gonna do? So, it’s tough,” said Mason.
The company says it’s been unable to log from federal forests to remain competitive and stay open. Rough and Ready has operated for 90 years, employing 85 people. In the last several years, it’s been the only operating sawmill in Josephine County.
Many of the workers say they plan to look for jobs in Josephine or Jackson County, but they say, most likely, it’ll be jobs outside of the lumber industry.