Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Judge Clears Way for Sale of Durango; Motion Allows Trustees to Accept Bids

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Judge Clears Way for Sale of Durango; Motion Allows Trustees to Accept Bids

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS -- A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a motion that will allow the sale of Durango-Georgia Paper Co. and begin the process to repay creditors.

The ruling last week by Judge Lamar Davis Jr. allows trustees managing the Durango estate to accept bids on part or all of the paper company's assets.

Ward Stone, a Macon attorney representing the trustee managing the St. Marys paper mill's assets, said some bids have already been accepted and are being considered.

A high bidder will eventually be identified, for the purpose of setting a minimum threshold for further bids at an auction tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 18, Stone said. That is standard practice in bankruptcy proceedings, he said. And the high bidder would be allowed to enter the fray anew.

Other bids will be accepted until Tuesday, July 12, according to the court order.

"This is designed to maximize the value of each asset," Stone said. "The intent is to encourage different classes of bidders."

The mill, Camden County's largest employer for 60 years, closed in November 2002 after declaring bankruptcy, costing more than 900 employees their jobs.

Bob Noble, director for the Camden County Joint Development Authority, said the auction is a positive step that could lead to a settlement that would help those owed money, as well as local governments.

"A sizable tract of property in the county has been unavailable for redevelopment or reopening," Noble said. "This property will go back on the tax rolls."

Stone said bidders include those who want to reopen the mill for paper manufacturing and several who want to tear the mill down and build a combination of commercial businesses and residential housing on the 700-acre site.

The mill's water permit, which allows up to 44 million gallons a day to be pumped from the Floridan aquifer system, is also up for bid, according to the court order issued by the judge. …

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