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Crane Stationery expects to layoff about 85 percent of its employees in June. Company officials say its Curran Highway facility is now too big to operate.

Crane Stationery Leaving North Adams for New York

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Crane Stationery is pulling up stakes after more than 200 years making paper in the Berkshires. 
In a statement released Friday afternoon, company officials said they had made the "difficult decision" to shift operations to parent company Mohawk Fine Papers in Cohoes, N.Y.
The news isn't a surprise: Crane announced a month ago it would be laying off nearly its entire workforce of more than 200 by June 19.
"For almost 220 years, Crane has made its home in the Berkshires. It's an indelible part of our history and our culture, and an enormous point of pride," said Thomas O'Connor, CEO of Mohawk in a statement. "We recognize that our departure will be felt by the North Adams community, but at the heart of this decision is our commitment to ensuring that the extraordinary heritage of the Crane brand lives on. 
"Crane partners with hundreds of small-business retailers around the country and serves customers who have lifelong and even generational relationships with Crane. We are optimistic about our next chapter and being able to continue that legacy."
The company had pointed to the shutdown in mid-March because of the novel coronavirus as exacerbating its financial difficulties because of reduced demand and the bankruptcy filing of a major distributor  It brought employees back to complete orders with the help of a federal Payroll Protection Program loan that will expire on the date of the stated layoffs. 
"We have spent the last several weeks determining how to reposition our company while keeping the greatest number of employees working," according to the company statement, but officials say, "the current facilities in North Adams represent too much space and unsustainable overhead costs given our decreased business scale."
Mohawk Fine Papers purchased the company in 2018 from an employee partnership and a year ago was touting its commitment to invest $3 million to $4 million into the facility in the Robert Hardman Industrial Park on Curran Highway. It was in the midst of a rebranding effort expected to be unveiled by the end of the year. 
Instead, an unknown number of employees, "craftspeople," will be transferred to the Cohoes plant, where the family company is headquartered. 
Mayor Thomas Bernard said he was contacted by Crane officials shortly before the statement was released. 
"I'm disappointed but not surprised," the mayor said. 
The city and the company have been at odds since Crane was allowed reopen a few weeks ago to provide materials to "essential" businesses. Crane officials refused to submit a plan showing only that essential work was being done and the Board of Health refused to back the mayor's attempt to enforce an emergency health order.
Bernard said he's still "in the dark" on what Crane's plans are for its workforce after conflicting communications were given to him, employees and the media in late April on whether the company was closing or not. 
He said his continued concern is the health, safety and well-being, and especially the economic well-being of the employees who spent so many years doing the work that secured Crane's reputation.

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North Adams Committee Tweaking Solicitor Ordinance

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee is considering side-stepping a thorny problem about access to the city solicitor by rewriting an ordinance to more clearly spell out lines of communication. 
Chairwoman Lisa Blackmer said the wording in the ordinance had raised questions as to whether any single councilor has "unfettered access to the city solicitor." 
"I think, we thought that was not particularly good," she said. "So I'd like to take a shot at rewriting that ordinance."
The council had objected back in 2018 when the city switched over to KP Law as city solicitor, limiting council members' access to the Boston law firm. The council members had been used to contacting former City Solicitor John B. DeRosa, who'd been kept on retainer for 35 years before stepping down in March 2018.
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