BRASELTON -- Officials are asking Mayfield Dairy's parent company to reconsider its recent decision to shut down the company's visitor center.
At a city council meeting last week, Mayor Bill Orr said the municipality needs the opportunity to work with the company "and express our willingness to make it make sense for Mayfield to keep the visitor's center open, because it does make sense for Braselton."
The news comes in the wake of an announcement last month that the center would close Oct. 31 due to tough economic times. It was reported that the plant would stay open for production and distribution.
Councilman Richard Mayberry said the center, which has been open since 1997, "is a vital part of our visitors bureau authority and a strategic partner attracting tourists from many states.
"So," added Mayberry, "we urge Dean Foods with a time-honored southern expression to 'hunker down' through this recession."
Since opening, nearly 2 million visitors have taken educational tours through the center and shopped at the ice cream parlor and gift store.
A spokesman for the company said operating the visitor center "wasn't economically sustainable anymore.
"This decision was a difficult but necessary one that will help us continue to invest in the Mayfield brand and the hundreds of employees that produce and sell Mayfield products," said Jamaison Schuler, senior manager of corporate communications with Dean Foods.
According to its website, Dean Foods employs about 25,000 employees worldwide at about 100 plants around the world.
Dean Foods-owned Mayfield Dairy makes and distributes ice cream, milk, buttermilk, sour cream, cottage cheese and frozen yogurt to customers in eight southeastern states.
Mayberry said he hopes the company will change its mind and not close the local visitor center.
He said "even a temporary closing of the visitor center through the winter months with a pledge to re-open in 2012 can give us all time to plan ahead and identify community and state resources."
The mayor and city council encourage those interested in keeping the visitor center open to contact Mayfield Dairy at 1 (800) 362-9546.