The Odessa Record -

More interest shown in industrial park


November 23, 2017

Questions of federal vs. state laws on the question of marijuana use and how the answers to them might affect the Odessa Industrial Park were of concern to several members of the Odessa Public Development Authority last month after hearing from a potential tenant for a vacant building in the park. Last month’s meeting also brought out several members of the public who expressed their objection to having a marijuana grow operation in the park. At that time, the board nevertheless went into executive session to reach some tentative agreements on how to proceed if the board should ultimately approve the potential tenant.

This past Monday evening, the board met again, and once again the hospital’s Guild Room was filled to capacity with citizens interested in the issues on the table. Also present were three guests who were there to propose an alternative use for the vacant building in the industrial park. Phil Hinrichs, his father Bob Hinrichs and his son Kyle Hinrichs own The Hinrichs Trading Company headquartered in Pullman that processes and ships a food product, chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). Wilbur-area growers of chickpeas had suggested to them that the Odessa facility would be a convenient location for them to deliver their crops after harvest, their other facilities in Othello, Steptoe and Clarkston being much farther away.

Several people also attended the meeting via telephone, including Kevin Green of the ag department, members of the State Auditor’s Office and Jim Gray, the party interested in establishing a marijuana growing operation at the Odessa Industrial Park.

As Gray listened to the growing enthusiasm of the meeting participants during the Hinrichs’ presentation, he felt compelled to express his feelings of disappointment and frustration with the way things were going. He said he had spent $50,000 purchasing a grower’s license and another $2,000 or so on materials following the tentative discussions that had taken place with the board the previous month. Board members countered that no contracts had been signed and no promises made. Both sides planned on consulting attorneys regarding their next steps.

At the close of the meeting, the board went into executive session for an hour but made no decisions and took no action after returning to adjourn the regular meeting.

Other business that preceded the Hinrichs’ presentation included a clean report from the State Auditor’s Office covering the past three years of financial dealings of the board. The final audit report will be posted to the auditor’s website within a couple of weeks. The auditors had only one minor recommendation for the board citing a conflict of interest. Washington state law prohibits public board members from benefiting from their positions, so there was concern about Todd King serving on the board while his company Leffel, Otis & Warwick was handling financial matters for the board (although usually at no or reduced cost). King asked whether there was a monetary limit involved and was told to consult the group’s attorney. Board members appeared to agree that the matter could be resolved rather easily, one way or another.

The shuttered biodiesel plant has completed its online auction of the equipment and supplies remaining in the facility. The auction brought in just over $322,000 which will be returned to the state of Washington as a loan repayment. A small amount of equipment that did not sell during the auction will be left in the building, as it might possibly be of use to a future tenant or purchaser.


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