PRAIRIE CITY — The parent company of the Prairie Wood Products sawmill in Prairie City intends to reopen the facility in early July and plans on hiring roughly 50 employees.
The D.R. Johnson Lumber Co., Prairie Wood’s parent company, announced in a press release that the sawmill will host a job fair at Chester’s Thriftway in John Day on Monday, June 13, and Tuesday, June 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. According to the press release, the company is looking to fill a variety of jobs, from maintenance and production to management roles in human resources.
The wages, the press release states, will be “highly competitive” with a “robust” benefits package.
The Prairie City mill was purchased in 1976 by the D.R. Johnson Lumber Co. Two years later, the family-owned company added a stud mill and planer. Then, in the late 1980s, the company installed a co-generation power plant at the Prairie Wood Products mill.
The sawmill, which operated successfully in Prairie City for more than 30 years and employed upward of 100 people who worked two different shifts, shuttered in 2008 amid a housing market crash that led to a lack of available sawlogs.
D.R. Johnson restarted the mill in early 2009 but shut it down permanently by the end of the year. The cleanup of the mill, which sits at the west end of Prairie City, concluded in 2019. Since then, much of the mill equipment has remained, along with the co-gen plant.
In the mill’s heyday, Don “D.R.” Johnson expanded the facility’s capacity by adding a computerized stud mill in 1981. In the late 1980s, Johnson followed that up by installing the co-gen power plant at the mill.