Fredericksburg- A North Carolina-based lumber company has acquired the assets of the  W.T. Jones & Sons Inc. pine sawmill in Caroline County with plans to upgrade the facility.

Ashton Lewis Holding Co. expects to invest about $11 million at the sawmill in Ruther Glen area of the county to establish a new specialty southern yellow pine operation, state officials announced on Friday.

The investment will save 44 jobs in Caroline, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said. The W.T. Jones & Sons Inc. sawmill was established in 1970.

Ashton Lewis, based in Gatesville, N.C., produces pine logs for various lumber and wood products. The company has committed to source 90 percent of all pine lumber purchases from Virginia forestland owners, Northam’s office said.

“Ashton Lewis’ commitment to Caroline County will not only preserve quality jobs for hardworking Virginians and bring valuable investment to this rural locality, but will continue to provide markets for our forestland owners,” Northam said in a statement.

Northam approved a $50,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund as an incentive for the project.

Virginia has nearly 16 million acres of forestland, and forestry is the state’s third largest private industry.

“As a leader in the sawmill industry, Ashton Lewis will bring needed improvements to the existing operations of the W.T. Jones sawmill assets, resulting in jobs for our citizens and revenue for the county,” said Jeff Sili, chairman of the Caroline County Board of Supervisors.

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