Paper mill continuing long tradition at Middletown facility while helping area students

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 @ 3:00 AM


            Kindergarten student Arilyn McNair plants a “tickle me” seed with assistance from her teacher, Emily Young, during an Earth Day project Monday at Monroe Primary School. The program was sponsored by Essity Paper in Middletown. RICK McCRAB/STAFF
            RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Kindergarten student Arilyn McNair plants a “tickle me” seed with assistance from her teacher, Emily Young, during an Earth Day project Monday at Monroe Primary School. The program was sponsored by Essity Paper in Middletown. RICK McCRAB/STAFF(RICK McCRABB/STAFF)

A company with operations in a longtime Middletown facility literally and figuratively planted seeds in the minds of young students on Earth Day.

Representatives from Essity, a global hygiene and health company with paper mill operations in Middletown, marked Monday by helping students in Monroe and Carlisle plant seeds they will water and watch grow.

The kindergarten students at Monroe Primary School also were taught the importance of recycling, said Melinda Knapp, regional human resources director at Essity.

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Knapp said Essity has a major commitment to “sustainability.” Essity has more than 140 employees at its Middletown paper mill, where it makes the Tork brand of paper products used in paper towels, napkins, facial and bathroom tissue.

Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under the global brands TENA and Tork, among other brands. Essity has about 47,000 employees, and net sales in 2018 amounted to approximately $13.7 billion, according to the company that’s headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

The company has a long and storied connection to Middletown. Sam Ashworth, former director of the Middletown Historical Society, said the dilapidated buildings that were demolished signified the roots of the city’s paper industry. He said the facility housed Erwin Brothers Paper Company, the first paper mill in the city, then Oglesby Paper Company.

The current buildings housed the former John Smith Paper Company that was founded in the 1920’s and then became part of Sorg Paper Company. After Sorg Paper, the company names were Bay West, Wausau Paper, SCA, and Essity, which stems from the words “essentials” and “necessities,” said Cami Walton, Middletown mill assistant.

Knapp said the plant sends representatives into the community to talk about environmental issues every Earth Day, Recycling Day and Hand Washing Day.

The students placed a few seeds in a planter, pushed them into the soil with their pencils, then placed plastic over the planters.

“We want them to learn how to take care of Earth,” Knapp said.

Kindergarten teacher Emily Young, in her eighth year, said her students are learning about the importance of planting trees and plants to improve the quality of air they breathe. The students, she said, will watch the plants grow, discuss the process in class, then touch the “tickle me” plants.

“They can see how the plant is alive,” Young said.

Before going to Monroe, the volunteers were at Alden Brown Elementary School in Carlisle, and will be in Springboro today since the district was closed Monday.

Fairfield held its annual tree-planting ceremony at Huffman Park on John Gray Road. This year’s tree was the wildfire tupelo, a black gum tree that can grow as tall as 40 feet with a 25-foot canopy from Lakeview Garden Center and Landscaping.

“Today is a a truly special day to celebrate the environment,” said Tim Abbott, Duke Energy director of government and community relations and a Fairfield City Council member. He said there are more than 1 billion people in more than 190 countries who celebrate Earth Day.

“We take our commitment to the environment very seriously,” he said. Duke Energy works with customers through its energy efficiency “to reduce their demand on the system which in turn helps the environment.”

Fairfield Parks Director Tiphanie Howard said Duke Energy is responsible for helping to populate Huffman Park, which was built in 2012, with so many trees.

“Without your generous support, this wouldn’t be possible,” she said.

Those who attended the ceremony left with a tulip popular seedling to plant.