North Adams, Crane talking, but plant reopening unresolved

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NORTH ADAMS — The mayor of North Adams still was waiting late Tuesday for one of the city's largest employers to say whether it sees a future here.

But, Mayor Thomas Bernard said he remained hopeful that Crane Stationery Co. will meet conditions he set Sunday on the company's planned reopening, after the company received confirmation that it is an essential business and can operate amid pandemic restrictions.

"I'm hopeful that we can move this fairly quickly to be where they want to be," Bernard said of the company.

On Monday, Bernard took the unusual step of asking Crane and its owner, Mohawk Fine Papers of Cohoes, N.Y., to disclose plans for employment at its Curran Highway facility, citing "a turbulent and confusing" week that included a notice of a reopening and the intention to lay off 85 percent of its staff come June.

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The company employs 229 people and traces its lineage in Berkshire County back more than two centuries.

"I call upon the ownership and management of Crane Stationery and Mohawk paper to immediately and publicly issue a statement that clarifies the future of Crane Stationery in North Adams," Bernard said. "My door is open to the Crane team, but we all deserve and expect transparency and truth from the company and its management."

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Bernard said that he had exchanged emails with company officials Tuesday. As of late afternoon, the company had not yet fulfilled conditions the mayor set Sunday on its reopening.

Thomas D. O'Connor Jr., Mohawk's CEO and chairman, said Sunday he viewed Bernard's actions as "retaliatory."

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On Monday, Crane officials asked Bernard to offer proof that he holds the statutory authority to impose the conditions, which included evidence that the planned work qualified as essential.

Bernard said he planned to provide that proof. The city also plans to send health and building inspectors into Crane's two buildings in the Hardman Industrial Park off Route 8.

O'Connor could not be reached Tuesday for comment on whether the company plans to "take action to resolve the inconsistencies in communication that have contributed to the recent confusion," as Bernard phrased it in a statement Monday.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-588-8341.


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