JAY — A hostage situation at a mill in Jay ended peacefully tonight after 49-year-old Frank Smith of Norridgewock surrendered to the state police tactical team.

Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine State Police, said Smith surrendered after spending several hours on the telephone with state police negotiators.

Smith has been charged with kidnapping and causing a police standoff.

McCausland said Smith allegedly held the mill’s manager, 43-year-old Mark Connor, hostage at gunpoint in Conner’s office for several hours.

Connor was released by Smith this afternoon. He was unharmed.

Police said that Smith was armed with a shotgun. He is being held at the Franklin County Jail.

The standoff began Wednesday morning at the Verso Paper Androscoggin Mill, according to police.

State police negotiators continued Wednesday evening to talk by phone with the hostage taker, who remained inside the administrative building at the mill in Jay.

Connor was freed after the hostage taker spoke for several hours with state police negotiators, who responded to the scene along with a state police tactical team, McCausland said.

A mill spokeswoman, Cherilee Budrick, said Wednesday evening that all the mill’s employees are “safe and out of harm’s way.”

Area police agencies responded within minutes of the emergency call reporting the incident, which began around 9 a.m., Budrick said.

State police evacuated the administrative building upon arrival. Meanwhile, employees continued to work throughout the day in other parts of the mill, which are isolated from the administrative building, Budrick said.

The mill has about 1,000 employees who work in shifts to keep the operation running 24 hours a day, she said.

For most of the day, dozens of logging trucks lined Riley Road leading up to the mill, which stands on the banks of the Androscoggin River. Police cruisers and vehicles remained parked outside the mill, while the roadway was closed to traffic.

Among the truck drivers was Kim Ludden, 48, of Unity. She works for H.O. Bouchard Inc. and was making an oil delivery to the mill around 9 a.m., just as the incident unfolded.

Mill officials stopped her and several other truck drivers making deliveries, saying there was a situation involving a disgruntled former employee, Ludden said, adding that police vehicles began arriving shortly thereafter.

Town Manager Ruth Cushman described the paper mill as vital to Jay and the entire region. She added that it is the largest employer in Franklin County.

As news of the hostage taking at the mill unfolded, community members started calling the Town Office for information about people working at the mill. Cushman, 62, spent the day passing along updates from the town police chief, Larry White Sr., who was at the scene and kept town officials informed.

Workers at the Town Office, some of whom are former mill workers, also got calls from employees inside the mill during the standoff to provide updates, she said.

“There are a lot of people in the mill who were calling out and telling their loved ones that they are OK,” Cushman said.

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