By Justin Franz, 2-08-13
||Caption: Stinger Welding, Inc., employees work on steel while constructing bridge girders. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Stinger Welding will close its bridge building facility in Libby this month. Lincoln County Commissioner Tony Berget confirmed the news on Friday afternoon.
The announcement comes less than two months after CEO Carl Douglas was killed in a plane crash near Libby on Dec. 18, 2012. After the crash, the company was put into volunteer receivership, where a court-appointed receiver manages the company until the ownership situation is resolved.
“The receiver was in town (this week) and let employees know that they were going to close the Libby operation in two or three weeks,” Berget said.
Berget said some employees were offered positions at Stinger’s Arizona headquarters. As of early January, the company had 69 employees in Libby.
Recently, a legal dispute between Lincoln County and Stinger had spilled into public view. In October of last year, the county port authority filed a lawsuit alleging Stinger failed to comply with a 2009 economic development agreement.
Berget said he was disappointed by Stinger’s decision to close the Libby plant, especially considering the area’s high jobless rate. In December the county had an unemployment rate of 14.8 percent.
“I’m really disappointed. I was hoping things would work out, that they’d be successful and keep people employed,” Berget said. “Every job in Lincoln County is important. I mean our unemployment rate is just so high.”
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