Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

In August, people of northern Blair County cheered when it was announced that Team Ten LLC and the borough of Tyrone had come to an agreement that would wake a sleeping giant and bring more than 170 jobs to the area.
More than two months later, Tyrone Borough and Team Ten are still waiting for that agreement to be signed, and without it, the governing body, under federal law, cannot issue a permit allowing American Eagle Paper Mills to discharge industrial waste into the sewage treatment facility.
“The borough, in no way, wants to delay the opening of this facility,” Larry Clapper, the borough’s solicitor, told The Daily Herald yesterday morning. “In fact, we’ve attempted to work this out in every way possible. We want to see the mill open again and we want that to happen soon. In the same breath, they have to understand that we had an agreement that was documented in the minutes of the August 11 meeting of borough council and that agreement should be honored.”
According to Clapper, following the Aug. 11 meeting when the details of the agreement were ironed out, Team Ten officials wanted him to draft the agreement letter that needed to be countersigned, and get it into Team Ten officials’ hands as quickly as possible.
Clapper said this letter was sent to the Team Ten attorney the following day.
A few weeks went by and Clapper said he heard nothing from Team Ten.
“It was puzzling,” said Clapper. “I figured everything was okay and they wanted it quickly, I expected a prompt response.”
John Ferner, president of Team Ten LLC, said this morning the only thing his group received from Clapper was a letter, dated Aug. 12, which he referred to several times that it was information from the meeting and a tentative agreement.
“We have not seen a formal agreement yet,” said Ferner. “We didn’t view what he sent us as a formal agreement, rather an information packet containing information from the meeting. We do have some disputes with that and he’s (Clapper) added things that we hadn’t even discussed at the council meeting.
“Until we see a formal agreement, there’s nothing really we can sign.”
Clapper said a few weeks after sending the Aug. 12 letter, he did receive a letter from Team Ten attorneys.
“What I received was another agreement that they had drafted,” said Clapper. “And in this agreement, there were terms missing or terms conflicting with what was agreed upon in August.”
This, according to Clapper, came by his desk in the middle of September – after Team Ten LLC had already closed on the deal to purchase the Westvaco plant. Clapper said the reason Team Ten’s Harrisburg attorney’s claim they re-drafted the agreement was because their financial institutions would not release funding with the way the agreement was written.
“The deal has already been closed,” said Clapper. “The banks have nothing to do with this.”
Clapper said there were two parts of the Aug. 11 agreement. The first concerned assignment capacity and the second had to do with costs to treat sewage.
In August, the borough took provisions against allowing Team Ten to have assignability rights with the 2.5 million gallons of baseline capacity. In layman’s terms, if the borough would have granted Team Ten assignability of this capacity and the mill at some time would sell, Team Ten would then have the right to sell that capacity to whoever.
“We don’t feel they should have the right, if it would ever come to that, to assign that capacity,” said Clapper.
Clapper said when attorney’s from Team Ten presented the borough with their newly drafted agreement, it didn’t contain any language concerning this assignability issue, although it was stated clearly in the original draft from Clapper.
“If there is no assignability clause, the law states that this is assignable capacity,” said Clapper. “That’s something I animately spoke on during the August meeting and wanted to make sure the borough was protected. When I received their draft copy of the agreement, it didn’t contain anything at all concerning assignability for the baseline capacity.”
Ferner claims Clapper added things into the Aug. 12 letter that was never discussed at the council meeting, including the borough reserving an additional 250,000 of capacity.
“They mentioned nothing about signing an agreement,” said Ferner. “That was the first thing requested by Harry Sickler at our closed meeting.”
Clapper said the borough would be willing to include the original agreement as part of the permit should Team Ten attorney’s decide to honor the August deal. With a signed agreement, the borough could move ahead with awarding a permit for the plant to discharge the industrial waste into the sewage treatment plant.
Without the permit, the facility, under federal Environmental Protection Laws, cannot discharge this type of waste, thus wouldn’t be allowed to produce paper.
Borough engineer Ray Myers, of CET Engineering of Huntingdon explained the plant could discharge residential waste, such as from toilets and sinks, but not industrial waste from the machines that make the paper products.
Tyrone Mayor Patricia Stoner said she is disappointed that Team Ten has not responded to Clapper’s request to sign the agreement, citing everything the borough “bent” on to get this deal worked out.
“”We’ve really given a lot to this group that we didn’t really have to,” said Stoner. “We wanted the mill to operate again, so we bent a little on some things. I just can’t understand why they want even more.”
Clapper reiterated the fact that the borough doesn’t want this held up any longer.
“The borough has not stood in anybody’s way to get this mill up and running,” said Clapper. “We want it operating just as bad as everybody else does. That agreement should be honored and they should sign it so we can all move on.”
Ferner said he contacted Mayor Patricia Stoner yesterday to talk about the situation, but did not receive a return phone call. He said he did talk with a council member who told him that the matter would be brought up during an executive session to see what the status is.
“Basically, all we want to do is sit down with them and work out a final agreement,” he said. “I guess they are more concerned with what news they can make.”
Ferner said plans are as they’ve always been.
“We’re still planning on starting up next week,” he said. “These misunderstandings need to be resolved in the next couple of days. If someone from the borough returns my phone calls, maybe we could sit down and talk about it.”

By Rick