After a downturn in the economy forced a one-year closure, D.R. Johnson Lumber Co. is set to resume operations at its Riddle sawmill Oct. 6. The timber firm anticipates it could hire up to two-dozen workers.

“We are excited to put our people back to work,” Chief Operating Officer John Redfield said. “After being down for over a year, it feels good to be getting back in the game.” Co-owner Valerie Johnson said a rebounding market for wood products has her “enthusiastically optimistic but cautious as well” about reopening the sawmill that closed last winter.

“This economy still has not recovered. While the rest of the country feels they went through a recession, there’s no question that the wood products industry went through a depression,” Johnson said. She said the company anticipates the market will remain steady enough to reopen the mill.

“Also, logs are still very difficult to come by because federal agencies still don’t have responsible management strategies on federal lands, but we do believe the particular log we need at that mill at Riddle will be available, at least in enough supply for us to run this,” she added.

Founder Don R. Johnson and his wife, JoAnne, settled in Riddle in 1951 and immediately began building a sawmill where the current facility still stands at 1991 Pruner Road. Today, the company also operates a glu-lam beam plant and a co-generation power plant at the Riddle site. Those facilities have not been shut down. Don R. Johnson passed away in 2010. His wife, and the couple’s children and grandchildren now run the company. Last winter was the first time the mill was closed for an extended period of time, said Valerie Johnson, Don and JoAnne Johnson’s daughter.