Updated Tuesday, 7:52 p.m.
Amerbelle Textiles LLC, the company being described by Mayor George Apel as the last link of Vernon's former industrial might, is closing.
Apel announced the closing today in a short, to-the-point news release. He called Amerbelle "the town's only remaining operating mill." The company also confirmed the closing.
The origins of Amerbelle date back to the end of the Civil War and Apel estimated that the building at 104 East Main St. was constructed between 1865 and 1869.
Amerbelle Chief Financial Officer John Moyer said he has been meeting with CEO Douglas Rimsky throughout the morning on transitional matters. He did say it would be an "orderly close" that would take place over "the next few months."
Moyer said he would release more specifics when he can.
Vernon Economic Development Coordinator Shaun Gately said Amerbelle fell victim to overseas competition, imports and the economy in general.
Moyer and other executives had been working hard for years to make Amerbelle prosperous.
Moyer said there are about 68 employees at the mill.
“I regret to learn of the closing of Amerbelle Mill, which has been a part of Rockville’s milling heritage for nearly 150 years," Apel said. "I am especially saddened for the employees of the mill, and that remaining link to our textile past has gone the way of so many other manufacturers. I wish to thank Mr. Rimsky, who has invested significant time and resources in maintaining this historic property, as well as the efforts of Hockanum Industrial Development and Venture Corporation, who has assisted the town in maintaining productive uses of the site. I will be working closely with our Town Council, and our Economic Development Department to investigate reuses of this property.”
Gately said Challenge Sailcloth, remains in the facility.
Amerbelle and the area near Hockanum Falls, has been a popular spot for walkers and artists through the years.
Amerbelle is famous for its aerospace contributions, namely the high-tech Mars Pathfinder parachute.
Other markets Amerbelle contributed to include:
• Athletic uniforms.
• Banners and flags.
• Computer and sport bags.
• Emergency medical service garments.
• Equine fabrics.
• Filtration fabrics.
• Home furnishings.
• Industrial fabrics.
• Industrial uniforms.
• Medical Barrier Fabrics.
• Military applications.
• Personal floatation devices.
• Photographic umbrellas.
• Police jackets.
• Prepared fabric for lamination or printing.
• Skiing and snowboarding apparel.
• Sleeping bags.
"Due to the adverse economic conditions and imports, we are no longer able to keep Amerbelle open," Moyer said. "We are planning a smooth closure over the next few months. The fact that we were able to stay open this long is because of our hardworking employees, cooperation with the Town of Vernon and our committed owner, Doug Rimsky."
At the Tuesday night Town Council meeting, Apel lamented the news, saying "Amerbelle will be missed."
He also said U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney contacted him to pledge his help in making the soon-to-be displaced employees aware of federal assistance programs.