Voices of the mill: Steve Purnell, 57, of Mount Vernon

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.

When Scott Paper Co. started in Everett in the 1950s, it owned thousands of acres of timberlands. That way it could control the process of making paper products from start to finish.

Steve Purnell started his career in Granite Falls in 1979 at some of those timberlands, preparing land before or after logging.

He liked the work so much he thought he’d go into forestry. Instead, the company shut down its timberland work. He ended up working at the mill, his first job there watching roll after roll fly by.

Later he moved into the utilities department, where he helped make power: first by bulldozing fuel into boilers, and later by operating a boiler.

“It’s been a good job,” he said. “It’s a good source of income. It’s a shame to see it go.”

Now, he’s trying to figure out what to do next. He’s applying for boiler jobs around the country — there’s not much call for running huge boilers in the Northwest.

He’s still employed until mid-April.

The closure of the mill signals something to Purnell — and it’s not good.

“I think it’s just sad,” he said. “It’s what made the U.S. great and now they are destroying what made them great. How can you not reinvest in the America that made you great? How can you not do that? It seems irresponsible.”

More in Local News

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

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

This dental office devoted a day to free care for veterans

All Smiles Northwest in Everett was among businesses observing Freedom Day USA.

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Fugitive convict, missing more than a year, surrenders

Charles Coggins, 60, turned himself in Monday. He could now spend up to 30 days behind bars.

Former homeless camp needs needles and garbage cleaned up

The Hand Up Project will lead a volunteer effort this weekend on wooded land south of Everett.

County Council postpones vote on conservation programs

A decision on funding agricultural and water-quality programs will come after the budget process.

30 homes evacuated after mudslide ruptures natural gas line

The slide also damaged a home in the 7300 block of N Meadowdale Road, near Lynnwood.

Snohomish mayoral candidates have very little in common

Karen Guzak and John Kartak are vying for the new position.

Most Read