John Halle the President and CEO of Cate Street Capital at the East-Milinocket Mill. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

A company that was expected to play a lead role in reviving a Hampden trash plant that’s been closed for more than two years has pulled out of the operation, forcing the facility’s new owners to develop a new reopening plan.

That company, CS Solutions, withdrew as the facility’s operator following Bangor Daily News coverage that highlighted its roots in a New Hampshire-based investment company that came to Maine more than a decade ago, pledging to reopen the Katahdin region’s two paper mills and start a facility making wood pellets that could serve as a coal substitute. 

That company, Cate Street Capital, left behind operations that either failed or never materialized, along with unpaid bills to vendors and the federal government, and two bankruptcies. It restarted the East Millinocket paper mill for about 2½ years, but the Millinocket mill lay dormant. The wood pellets plant slated for Millinocket never came to fruition.

In the process, Cate Street benefited from more than $140 million in state and federal tax breaks and lending in its first two years of owning the mill properties, the BDN reported at the time. Both Cate Street and its papermaking subsidiary, Great Northern Paper, have since filed for bankruptcy protection. 

CS Solutions was expected to work under the Municipal Review Committee and its prospective financial partner, Revere Capital Advisors. The Municipal Review Committee is a group of 115 Maine communities that used the Hampden plant in the six months it ran before its May 2020 shutdown. The group has been working ever since to restart it, and formally acquired the plant last month.

Municipal Review Committee president Karen Fussell said Friday that CS Solutions withdrew from the arrangement last week because of the BDN’s coverage.

“They didn’t want to take it,” she said. “Their staff was getting a lot of heat, and they didn’t want to have to deal with it.” 

Officials at CS Solutions and Revere Capital Advisors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Through its reporting, the BDN revealed that CS Solutions is inextricably linked with Cate Street, sharing officers, addresses and some business history with the investment firm that John Halle and Richard Cyr began in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 2009 to invest in sustainable development.

CS Solutions’ CEO, Ned Dwyer, served as president of Cate Street’s Great Northern Paper as the East Millinocket mill closed for good and Great Northern later filed for bankruptcy.

The BDN could find no corporate registration filings for CS Solutions, although companies doing business in Maine generally are required to register as corporations with the Maine secretary of state.

But the entity through which CS Solutions appears to conduct business, CS Operations, is registered in Maine, Florida, New Hampshire and Delaware, and lists the same principal address, mailing address and top officers — including Halle — as Cate Street in its corporate filings.

In Florida, CS Operations’ official name is Cate Street Operations, and a New Hampshire judge has described CS Operations as “a mere continuation” of Cate Street Capital.

Now that CS Solutions has pulled out of the Hampden trash plant, Fussell said the Municipal Review Committee and Revere are working to develop a new plan. 

“We’re hoping by next week, we’re going to have more information and be providing an update to our members regarding that development, which people will find is favorable,” she said. 

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...