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      Blumenthal Mills ends 34-year run in Marion County

      The Marion County economy took another hit Tuesday, as the Blumenthal Mills textile company closed its doors for good.

      In 1975, Blumenthal Mills opened in Marion County. For many years, the plant's business soared. But then the textile industry started to unravel.

      Last October, the troubled plant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was not able to recover.

      "I was hoping up until the 11th hour yesterday that a miracle would happen, but unfortunately it didn't," said Ken Gunnin, President and CEO of Blumenthal Mills.

      The company had prepared their 138 workers for the worst Monday afternoon. Officials called workers in to pick up partial paychecks. For employees, like Grady Gilchrist, Junior, the news that Blumenthal is closed is a tough pill to swallow.

      "I just had my 25 year anniversary on this past Tuesday."

      The closing is a hard hit for the entire community, in a county with 21 percent unemployment. Many just always assumed Blumenthal Mills would be there forever.

      "When I was growing up and stuff everybody wanted to work at Blumenthal Mills," said resident, Ricky Lucas.

      Plant officials said they never imagined they would see the day with Blumenthal would close, but they know they did all they could to save the company.

      "We can hold our heads up high and say that we gave it every ounce of energy and fight that we had within us to keep us open," Gunnin said.

      Blumenthal officials say they're working with unemployment officials to make sure their workers receive unemployment benefits.

      At one time, Blumenthal Mills employed nearly 800 workers.

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