“Mill Town you knowwwww!” Well, perhaps not anymore. Camas’ iconic paper mill, the Georgia-Pacific Mill, is in the process of laying off workers for the eventual shutdown. The small town Camas once was, is now progressing.
Even with the mill fouling up the air, and technology companies moving into Camas, Camas is the mill town. Beth Fillion says,“Camas was built around the mill and it provides jobs and livelihood for so many generations in the past, it will be missed but camas is a thriving town and it will change with the times.” The times are changing, and downtown Camas serves a reminder into the past, a look into the history of where Camas originated. When the mill is eventually gone and that land performs a different service to the community, historical downtown Camas will remind the community of Camas’ history.
Junior Sean Cogan says, “The paper mill is the pride of our town.” If that is true, Camas must find a new pride. The high school mascot is the papermakers. We were proud enough of the mill to make it our mascot and perhaps we should be proud enough to leave as it is.
When asked the question of what should be put in the mill’s place, Susie Keeney suggested, “A beautiful waterfront park. It will be making a negative into a positive.”
The negative does not come from the mill, however, but for the people who are losing their jobs and may have to relocate. Fillion advocates for “Public accessible riverfront usage. I don’t think the current port system is big enough to support the number of people’s access to the river and so this would be a benefit.” Where the mill is placed is prime land, and possible community benefits could derive from that space. Keeney says the mill being shut down will “reshape the community.”
The restructuring of the mill is said to be finished in 2018, and the shut down was inevitable as Keeney believes. Modern technology negates the usage of the mill, with online newspapers, general internet communications, etc. The lay off of workers has happened gradually since 2017. The reduction of machinery and jobs are reducing, which is causing at the high-end of predictions about 300 jobs to be lost.
Time progresses and as a community, we can not dwell on what once was. Technology changes, and the need for supplies changes with it, The Georgia-Pacific Mill a.k.a. the Camas Paper Mill eventual end rattles the community but Camas is resilient and its origins are still remembered in the historical parts of downtown Camas.