CLARENDON-Rutland County may have the highest unemployment rate in Vermont, but 15 county residents have helped reverse the trend this week - the lucky 15 are now gainfully employed by the Vermont Wood Pellet Company in Clarendon.
The new manufacturing operation transforms local wood fiber into compact pellets that are crafted for highly efficient, home-heating furnaces.
Vermont Wood Pellet will produce 10,000 tons of the little wood nuggets per year at its Clarendon site; it is the first manufacturing plant of its kind in the state.
The wood-fired manufacturing facility will save 1.2 million gallons of fuel oil a year.
"This is very exciting," said Gov. Jim Douglas. "This plant will produce enough pellets to heat more than 3,000 homes in Vermont."
Douglas also said that the company chose Vermont because of a special energy price deal offered by Rutland-based Central Vermont Public Service.
Company officials noted that employing just one person positively impacts four other local residents; the plant hirings will help employ contractors who will log and haul wood within a 30-mile radius of Clarendon.
The governor said Vermont Wood Pellet likes its location because it provides easy access to wood as well as a reliable source of good logging suppliers. Clarendon's veteran in-town mill provided an ideal plant site for the new enterprise.
Clarendon selectboard member Mike Klopchin said he was thrilled to see the plant open. He said the plant will not only downstream jobs, but it will also generate new tax funds to help support local schools.