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January 31, 2013 Issue

Glit to close in 60 days
Wright resigns position with city
100 days and counting...

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Glit to close in 60 days

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

At shift change Thursday morning, around 120 employees of Glit/Microtron were told that their Wrens plant will be closing in 60 days.

“This plant has had economic difficulties for quite a while,” said Bryan Brown, Glit’s director of manufacturing, who has been at the plant for nearly four years. “We have tried a lot of different things to turn this around. We’ve had a lot of support from the local community. Tom (Jordan, Jefferson County’s economic developer) has been a big part of that as has the local college (Oconee Fall Line Tech, formerly Sandersville Tech). We were able to do a lot of good things in this facility. But as far as making money, we just haven’t been able to get to that point.”

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According to Brown, the business was moved to Wrens in 1978 and its primary product lines include coated abrasives, sand screen and scrubbing pads, a large portion of which are used in the floor care industry.

“I think the official word is the economy,” Brown said. “Basically the capability has grown and the volume has dropped. We have a wide range of products. Unfortunately, probably the biggest product line is the floor pads and that’s the biggest problem as far as cost. There are a lot of people world-wide in that portion of the business. as cost. There are a lot of people worldwide in that portion of the business.

“They’re (Katy Industries, Glit’s owners) getting out of this part of the floor care business which is the main part of what this plant does.”

For the last year and a half employees have seen potential buyers tour the facility. Brown said that while he feels everyone at the plant knew this was a possibility, they were all hoping a buyer would be found.

“We’ve been trying to get the business and basically the operations in a good form to be able to sell the facility,” Brown said. “We created a value here. And we’ve tried to sell over the last year and a half. I would say it has been accelerated over the last six months. We just haven’t been able to secure a buyer. It comes to a point where they are no longer going to fund the losses of the facility.”

The 60-day notice will give the plant time to fill its last orders, help transition customers to other providers as well as give the company time to work with state agencies on arranging severance packages and other services for employees. Some have as much as 30 years of service with the company.

“We have people who started here as teenagers and dedicated their whole lives, years later they’re still here,” Brown said. “Obviously we want to take care of those people with a seniority-based severance.”

Jordan said this closure comes as a blow to a struggling county like Jefferson, which is currently considered among the state’s most economically blighted counties by the Department of Community Affairs.

For more than a decade, Jordan said, Jefferson County’s economic developers have been working trying to save this plant from closing.

“Approximately 10 years ago there was a real possibility of Glit leaving at that time,” Jordan said. “The Development Authority with Brad Day, before I came on board, got some grants and was able to build the 100,000 square foot distribution center and lease that to Glit at an attractive price with the option to buy at the end of that 10 years. And we’re approaching the end of that period now.

“But the fact is they would not be here if Brad and the Development Authority had not built that distribution center for them. It extended their life here 10 years.”

After the announcement Thursday, Jordan met with plant officials and began communicating with other local resources to give the 120 people working at Glit as many opportunities to find new employment as possible.

With PyraMax Ceramics, a manufacturing plant whose construction is nearing completion just south of Wrens, looking to fill around 50 positions in the next three months, Jordan is hopeful that some of those losing jobs will have opportunity there.

“We are sort of a catalyst and communication arm to make sure the human resources folks are talking collaboratively to help as many employees as we can,” Jordan said. “The local tech school is another resource in that regard, particularly to do some skill training, gap training we call it. Because of the work ready program they have measurement of the skill levels and they can provide training specific for the needs that are in these new jobs.”

Wrens Mayor Lester Hadden said Glit’s announcement “knocked us on our knees.”

“Air Balance closed after I’d been in office a month,” Hadden said. “I wondered then if there was anything we could have or should have done as a city that would have changed things. But, it was too late.”

For the last few years Hadden said the city has been meeting with Glit officials a couple of times a year and he feels that in this case there was nothing more the city could have done.

“Glit was a good gas, water and sewer customer of the city’s,” Hadden said. “This is going to be a $100,000 a-year revenue loss that will hit the city. Arty (Thrift, the city administrator) and I have to sit down and tighten up what we can. We can’t wait a year from now and find that we don’t have the revenue to pay our bills. Some services may change. The last thing we want to do is raise taxes or service fees. Hopefully we will find some things to cut and come up with a solution.”

And the city’s loss of services does not include the ways the loss of employment will effect citizens’ abilities to pay for their individual services or their support of other local businesses.

“That 120 jobs, that’s mostly people who live in Wrens. Most of these are local people,” Hadden said. “That’s 120 paychecks that go to the bank and grocery store, drug store, gas station…that’s going to be gone. How much more can we stand? Then we start wondering if we can afford two or this store or that one.”

Jordan said studies show that each manufacturing job typically supports three to four service sector jobs.

“So you can multiply that 120 by three and that’s mostly local impact,” Jordan said. “It’s real scary.”




Wright resigns position with city

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A Wrens city councilman arrested on drug charges two weeks ago has resigned. A special election to fill his post is being planned for June.

Wrens police and Jefferson County deputies arrested Herman Wright, 42, of Wrens on Wednesday, Jan. 16, after an undercover operative purchased 40 alleged Hydrocodone 10s. An investigator said other purchases had been made by the operative starting Jan. 1.


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During a subsequent search of Wright’s residence, officers found three firearms, including a .22 rifle that had been stolen in 1999, along with prescription bottles with the labels missing. Three different types of pills were in the prescription bottles, the investigator said.

Wright was taken into custody and later made bond, which had been set at $25,000. He was charged with three counts of sale or distribution of controlled substance, one count of theft by receiving stolen property and three counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. All of these charges are felonies.

Wright resigned in a letter sent to Wrens Mayor Lester Hadden dated Wednesday, Jan. 23, obtained by The News and Farmer under the Georgia Open Records Act.

“It is with much regret that I must inform you of my intent to resign from the Wrens City Council. Please accept my resignation effective immediately,” the letter states.

Calls to Wright’s number went unanswered as of press time Tuesday.

He has been a Wrens city councilman since a special election in March 2011.

In a memorandum from the city’s attorney, Christopher Dube, also obtained under the state’s Open Records Act, Dube states the city can hold a special election to fill Wright’s position on Tuesday, June 18.

The city council will have to officially accept Wright’s resignation and have the first reading of an ordinance to order the special election. This is scheduled for the city’s next regular meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 5.

The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the council meeting on March 5.

A qualifying fee has been set at $72. The deadline




100 days and counting...

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Students across Jefferson County celebrated their 100th day of class this school-year last Wednesday. First graders at Wrens Elementary dressed up like old people. Kindergartners at WES, Louisville Academy and Carver took part in various activities that centered around counting out 100 different items.

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