Railroad settlement boosts closure effort

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AIKEN --- After shutting down the historic textile mill in Graniteville two years ago, Stephen Felker Jr. is still wrapping up the final affairs of Avondale Mills.

Stephen Felker Jr.: Former manager of corporate development at Avondale Mills says he is saddened by the loss of the mills.  File/Staff
File/Staff
Stephen Felker Jr.: Former manager of corporate development at Avondale Mills says he is saddened by the loss of the mills.

But one part of his struggles is over.

Norfolk Southern recently settled a $425 million lawsuit filed by Avondale Mills and the plant's insurance company in federal court.

The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Mr. Felker, whose family owned the company where he served as the manager of corporate development, said he could not comment on the settlement until details were finalized.

He said Avondale Mills is still selling off its remaining real estate holdings.

"It's something that's slowly coming to a close," he said.

Mr. Felker said he was disappointed it took three years to conclude the legal challenge considering that, "Norfolk Southern admitted fault from the beginning."

The railroad argued in federal court that Avondale Mills was already losing business because of foreign competition at the time the train accident disrupted its business.

Mr. Felker acknowledged the competitive issues, but said, "it was not a challenge we were not going to be able to overcome."

He said he is saddened by the loss of the mills that had been running in Graniteville for decades.

"It'll never be replaced," Mr. Felker said. "It's really left a hole in my heart, and in others' ... I miss working with the people. I loved getting out into the plants."

What is he going to do now?

"I do not personally know where all this is going to take me," he said.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com

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aikshop1
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aikshop1 04/19/08 - 03:00 am
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Poor Stephen Felker, You

Poor Stephen Felker, You sucked Graniteville Company dry.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 04/19/08 - 06:59 am
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Class envy won't change

Class envy won't change anything aikshop1. It'll just make your life more bitter. While very little in life happens as a result of luck, the train wreck was the worst kind of luck for mill employees. There's only one way to deal with tragedy, no matter the situation. Dwelling on the negative isn't it.

getalife
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getalife 04/19/08 - 07:13 am
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Why can't the employees that

Why can't the employees that lost their jobs at Avondale Mills sue the railroad and Avondale Mills for their loss?? Avondale Mills received millions of dollars from the railroad!

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/19/08 - 07:36 am
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I missed the part where he "

I missed the part where he " Sucked Graniteville dry".

tnjsw
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tnjsw 04/19/08 - 07:54 am
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I have never seen one article

I have never seen one article with so much BS.

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