63-year-old Tommy Howell has a lot of souvenirs from Weyerhaeuser, including mugs and t-shirts, but what he doesn't have now is a job.
Weyerhaeuser shutdown its Aberdeen sawmill where Howell worked for more than 25-years, along with its nearby veneer plant, putting 221 people out of work.
Howell says, "I just feel sorry for all the young people over there. That's it. There's a lot of them, living from paycheck to paycheck. That's who I feel sorry for and with all the people out of work at the harbor, it's going be a hard time to find a job around here," and a hard-time for nearby businesses that depend on Weyerhaeuser workers to stop by, including a small grocery store that sits between the two plants. Grocery store employee Cristina Steuermann says, "Even my husband's job, his job is affected by it too, it's a trickle affect, it's going to get everybody." Her husband is a machinist whose company does work for the mills.
Aberdeen resident Arlene Lewis says, "It's going to be horrible, horrible. I don't know what we're going to do." Her nephew and friends work for Weyerhaeuser. She thinks people will have to leave the area find work.
Meanwhile, Howell says he's got the option to retire, but he may need to get a job to pay for health insurance since he and his wife have health problems.
Howell says, "I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best."
A Weyerhaeuser spokesman says they recently opened a new sawmill in Longview and Lebanon, Oregon. So, even if the economy gets better, don't expect the Aberdeen sawmill to re-open. He says the veneer plant is also a permanent shut-down. They hope to find a buyer for the veneer plant. He says they don't think they'll find one for the sawmill.