North Idaho

Mullan residents concerned with Lucky Friday closure

MULLAN, Idaho - After hearing about the temporary closure of the Lucky Friday, Mullan residents expressed concern Wednesday about laid off workers, the town and how they'll survive without the town's biggest employer.

"It's sad when any of the mines shut down because so many people depend on the mines," Mullan resident Wanda Gorder said.

Gorder, like a handful of other residents, was grabbing a cup of coffee at Bitterroot in town talking about the mine's closure Wednesday morning.

"If the mining people don't have money to spend at the stores then they're hurting too," Gorder said.

Gorder, who has lived in Mullan since the 3rd Grade, remembers when the Morning Mine closed years ago.

"There were a lot of people put out of work then and Mullan really went down hill," Gorder added.

Bitterroot owner Michael Dotson worries for the 185 people laid off in a town of just 840.

"People who work there are worried. Unemployment just doesn't cover it," Dotson said.

In addition the Hecla employees laid off another 50 to 100 contract workers were also let go. According to HECLA, all of those workers on average made $100,000 a year. Some of those are temporary layoffs, and all are expected to be hired back.

Dotson thinks town business needs to become more diverse, so Mullan won't fold if this happens again.

"It can't just be a mine, it can't just be logging, it needs to be a little bit of everything," he said.

Others like Chuck Reynalds are hopeful for the town, even if it takes months to get all the employees back to work, and back to Mullan.

"A lot of guys have gone on for jobs elsewhere until this mine re-opens, which it will," Reynalds said. "They've been a great employer for the Valley so we're hoping for the best."