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Demolition begins on Sartell paper mill

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Today, demolition crews are tearing down the former Verso paper mill in Sartell.

The St. Cloud Times reports that the north side of the site is being razed first.

The plant was destroyed in a fire on Memorial Day 2012, and more than 200 workers lost their jobs.

According to KNSI Radio, AIM Development bought the property for $11.5 million last spring, but has not announced what it will do with it.

It does plan to preserve the hydroelectric operations and two buildings, according to a story last year from MPR News. MPR quoted Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland saying the city will suffer the loss of good-paying jobs, tax revenue, and a charitable corporate citizen. She said that though plans for the property are unclear, she hopes the city can work with AIM Development to make the most of the dam and the hydroelectric facility.

The Sartell city website has updated information about plans for the site and progress of the demolition, which is expected to take about a year.

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Sartell tries to envision life after the paper mill

The owners changed over the years, but Sartell's paper mill has provided hundreds of jobs for more than a century. Those days are gone following Verso Paper's decision not to reopen the fire-damaged plant. Now Gov. Dayton will put together a task force to look at how to reuse the 37 acre site on the Mississippi River. Verso says it will share its list of potential buyers.