NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

Friday is the last day for production employees at the Maola plant in New Bern before the facility closes its doors for good.

The Maola Milk and Ice Cream Company plant, located at 305 Avenue C in New Bern, will officially close on Sunday.

But Friday is the last day of staffing for production employees.

The company said 98 positions will be eliminated.

Maola officials said the affected workers have been given severance packages and some were offered jobs within the company in different areas of the state.

Although the production plant will close, the site will still serve as a distribution center. Thirty positions will remain to handle deliveries, maintenance, security and human resources for three months to a year.

General Manager Danny Lovell released the following statement Friday:

"As the birthplace of Maola Milk and Ice Cream Company, New Bern will always hold a special place in our hearts. We cannot thank the city enough for its support during the past 79 years.

"Although we are consolidating our processing operations in order to continue serving the freshest milk products to people across the Carolinas and Virginia, we remain proud of our hardworking employees in New Bern who have helped make Maola the household name that it is today."

Maola said it is relocating its operations to High Point and Newport News, Va.

The company said it's being forced to consolidate because of a decline in milk consumption and the competitive dairy market. Company spokeswoman Alyssa Brass said the relocation of the facilities will bring them closer to their consumers.

We spoke to Mayor Dana Outlaw about the closing and what it meant to the New Bern area.

"We are very proud of Maola and so it's certainly loss from that standpoint but we'll rebound from this," Outlaw.