GOULDSBORO — Bumble Bee Seafood could wrap up a deal with a new owner of the former Stinson Seafood plant as early as mid-May, according to a spokesman for Governor John Baldacci.
“Bumble Bee has entered into a non-binding letter of intent with the seafood processor to buy the plant,” said Jim Nimon, the Governor’s economic adviser. “We are hopeful there will be a closing by mid-May.”
Nimon added that the new owner, whose name has not been disclosed, is expected to be in place Aug. 1.
He said the buyer also has agreed to give hiring preference to the 128 employees at the facility in the village of Prospect Harbor.
Nimon said state officials, Bumble Bee and Maine’s congressional delegation are working to ensure that employees will have substantial help paying for their medical benefits until a new company takes over.
“We’re hoping to make this as pain-free as possible,” he said.
Nimon said negotiations at this point involve such things as what equipment will stay in the building and what will be removed by Bumble Bee.
Stinson, the last remaining sardine cannery in the country, officially closes its doors Sunday after more than a century in business. However, most of the line workers responsible for packing the sardines and sealing the cans were expected to finish up Thursday.
The San Diego-based Bumble Bee blamed the closure on federal reductions in the total allowable catch of herring.
Employees on coffee break Thursday morning said that line workers inside were hugging each other while others were tearful.
Many were taking photographs of their longtime friends and co-workers.
Judy Driscoll of Gouldsboro said the workers were waiting for the final call of “All In,” which meant all of the herring intended to be processed that day was in the tanks.
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