Voices of the mill: Mike Ingrum, 44, of Marysville

In this series, we’re telling the stories of what the Kimberly-Clark mill closure means for workers and for Everett, which has been defined by mills for more than a century.

Mike Ingrum used to run the No. 10 boiler at the Kimberly-Clark pulp and paper mill.

Now his boiler has been shut down for good, and he’s spending his final work days at an eerily silent mill.

“It’s hard,” he said. “It’s like a bad dream to this day.”

Kimberly-Clark’s mill in Everett is set to close in mid-April. The company said it plans to demolish the site and sell the land.

Hundreds of people have already lost their jobs. Everett, the City of Smokestacks, has lost its last one.

Ingrum is one of the few working until the end.

He misses the hustle and bustle and the responsibility of his old job.

He and another worker would sit in a control room filled with gauges, buttons and dials.

This wasn’t any old basement boiler. The one Ingrum controlled was 10 stories tall. The boiler burned the sugars left over from the pulp-making process. The leftover acid was returned to the pulp factory, where it turned wood chips into pulp.

The plant fed the steam from his boiler and one other into a generator to make power.

It was important the boiler ran smoothly. If conditions weren’t managed just so, safety mechanisms would shut it down, essentially stopping work at the mill.

After doing the job for so many years, even little cues would tell him if something wasn’t quite right. Just a change in the pitch of the machinery would make him stand up and listen.

“Things could go south in a hurry if you didn’t pay attention,” he said.

Like many of his coworkers, he doesn’t believe workers were told the complete truth of why the mill shut down.

Running a huge boiler — that’s not a job skill that just any company needs. Some of his colleagues took work at a new boiler being built in Hawaii that will turn garbage into power. He’d rather not leave the Northwest. He may have to.

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

Mill Creek hires Gina Hortillosa as public works director

Hortillosa will be responsible for creating strategic infrastructure plans to promote economic growth.

Most Read