Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Dec 19th.
25 Years Ago
December 19, 1996 – Thursday
“New equipment operates with fewer workers”
“James River lays off 50 plus”
Chambersburg – Between 50 and 60 employees will lose their jobs at the James River Corp. plant in Chambersburg by Jan. 1 because the company is investing in labor-saving equipment.
The good news is that we are investing in the plant, but it means some jobs will be lost,” said company spokesman Richard Elder. “The plant, which employs 360 people, makes folding cartons used to package cereal, ice cream, spaghetti and other grocery items. Colored images are printed on sheets of paperboard, which are cut and folded into boxes. This new equipment changes how products are made,” Elder said. “It requires fewer people to participate in the manufacturing.”
About 10 jobs held by nonunion salaried and management employees are being eliminated, he said. The other jobs are held by “non-union workers who can be recalled if there are openings. Elder said workers were given notices more than a few weeks. This is a program that’s been planned and ongoing for some time,” he said.
He could not say whether more layoffs will follow.
The nature of this process is that it never ends,” he said. “We’re never done in terms of improving our operations and reducing our costs. It doesn’t always mean that jobs are lost.”
The Wayne Avenue plant, built in 1961 by American Can, has always done printing. James River, an international papermaker, based in Richmond, Va., bought he plant in J982.
It is one of the company’s 13 folding carton plants across the nation.
Some of the other plants are also cutting employment after buying new equipment, Elder said.
The Chambersburg plant was operating at a competitive disadvantage before upgrading its equipment, said L. Michael Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp.
Though the loss of jobs hurts a number of people, the company’s investment in the plant will benefit the area in the long run, he said.
“It helps to solidify James River’s presence in the community,” Ross said. “We’ve been supportive of their efforts because we see their long-term presence somewhat critical to our community’s stability.”
EDITOR’S NOTES: Information taken from “Wikipedia”
James River history
The company was founded in 1969 as the James River Paper Company by Brenton Halsey and Robert Williams, with the purchase of Ethyl Corporation’s Specialty Papers Division. Halsey and Williams were both former employees of Albemarle Paper Manufacturing Company; the city of Richmond lies along the James River.
The company changed its name to the James River Corporation in 1973, and it acquired the Dixie/Northern division of American Can Company in 1982.
In 1986, James River acquired the fine paper mill assets of Crown Zellerbach, headquartered in San Francisco, and became the largest paper manufacturer in the world. The brown paper division of CZ was not in the deal and became Gaylord Container Corporation. Crown Zellerbach had been the target of a hostile takeover by Sir James Goldsmith.
James River began producing 100 percent recycled paper products in 1991 at its mill in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Some of the products included Recycled Northern Bath Tissue, Recycled Brawn Towels, and Recycled Northern Napkins. Also, that year the company sold twenty-two paper mills to Specialty Coatings Group.
In 1997, the company merged with the Fort Howard Paper Company of Green Bay, forming the Fort James Corporation. At the time of their merger, James River was one of the largest paper manufacturers, with 60 manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe.
In 1998, Halsey and Williams, the company’s founders, were both inducted into the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame.
50 Years Ago
December 19, 1971 – Sunday
100 Years Ago
December 19, 1921 – Monday
“Joy riders take auto to get to Carlisle; Abandon it there”
Chambersburg – The touring car of A.M Crist from in front of the National Hotel in North Main Street by unknown thieves, who abandoned it at Carlisle.
Corporal Taylor of the state police and Crist this morning went to Carlisle to return the car to Chambersburg and make investigation regarding the theft.
Reports reaching the police indicate that several soldiers from the Carlisle barracks were in town Saturday until 1 o’clock a.m. and the investigation aims to determine whether the car was taken by the men in order to get back to camp.