- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

ST. REGIS, Mont. (AP) - The largest employer in Mineral County, Tricon Timber in St. Regis, has laid off 90 full-time employees.

Employees were notified Friday. Owner Ken Verley says the layoffs were prompted by the impeding expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada on Oct. 13. Once the agreement expires, Canadian companies will be able to ship lumber duty-free.

Tricon Timber operations worker Angelo Ververis says other factors include the Canadian exchange rate and the lack of available timber contracts.

Mineral County Extension Office spokesman Kevin Chamberlain says he expects the layoffs to seriously impact the local economy. He says the loss of four jobs in the county changes the unemployment rate by one-tenth of a percent.

Mineral County has a population of about 4,000 and a workforce of about 2,500. The population of St. Regis is only about 300.

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