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Sartell approves interim use permit for paper mill demolition

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The Sartell City Council set the wheels in motion for the demolition of the former Verso Paper mill.

The council unanimously approved an interim use permit to dismantle more than 600,000 square feet of buildings and tanks, the St. Cloud Times reports.

The new owners, AIM Development, still needs to submit details on the process and timeline of the demolition, along with the environmental investigation and cleanup, the newspaper said.

An explosion and fire at the plant, killing one worker and injuring five others, in May 2012 caused the former owner to stop operations and sell the property for $12.5 million.

The company says some work has already begun at the site, including asbestos removal inside some buildings. The demolition process could begin as soon as this month and is expected to take more than a year.

It’s unclear what AIM plans to do with the site.

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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.

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Verso Paper Corp. on Monday paid the city of Sartell in full – about $398,000 – for its response to a Memorial Day fire that ultimately led to the permanent closing of the company's paper plant, the St. Cloud Times reports. There were 92 agencies from across the state that helped fight the blaze and 68 of those sought repayment.