The Odessa Record -

Hemp plant deal falls through at last minute


October 24, 2019

Monday night’s meeting of the Odessa Public Development Authority produced unwelcome news for the Odessa community. The pending sale of the former biodiesel plant on Railway Avenue to an investor group from California, with operational involvement by some Odessa farmers and business people, has fallen through after months of due diligence, negotiations and financial deal-making.

HempTech Consulting, Inc., a team consisting of Matthew Mandel and Steve A. Johnson of California, Connor Deife and Traig Weishaar of Odessa and Michael A. Hermosillo with ties to California, Colorado and Mexico, presented a proposal to the OPDA last May. The team offered to buy the Railroad Ave. building for $375,000 and convert it to a production facility for extraction of oil from hemp, which has many and varied industrial uses.

The list price of the building at that time was $350,000, but the hemp group was so anxious to buy that they submitted a bid for over the list amount. At the same time, a company in India had expressed interest in operating a canola oil processing plant and had also submitted a bid for the list price.

The OPDA accepted the bid of the hemp group, which began organizing its financing. Locally, Weishaar worked to raise hemp plants on 150 acres of his land. Those plants are now being harvested. Deife meanwhile has focused on working out the best extraction process for the oil.

The original date for closing on the purchase of the building at one point was mid-August, but one delay after another has led the process deep into October. Last Friday, Doug Robins of Reality Executives of Moses Lake, the broker handling the sale, was informed by the financial group in California that there would be no purchase. Robins was present at Monday night’s meeting to explain the news to the OPDA board.

Earnest money in the amount of $50,000 was supposed to have been deposited into an escrow account, but that also never happened, Robins said. According to the paperwork used in preparation for the sale, the potential buyers would have had to respond in the affirmative in writing regarding their intention to move forward with the sale. Since they did not do so, the OPDA has no legal recourse but to accept their withdrawal and put the building back on the market, which Robins stated he would do.

OPDA board members JoEllen Wollman (president), Kim Ramm, Debbie Norris and Michael Edens voted to have Robins list the building for the original $350,000 price.

OPDA manager Stacey Rasmussen said the local team members were still interested in trying to organize financing for purchase of the building and were looking elsewhere for investment dollars.

So what happened to all those high hopes and promises of future jobs, profits and benefits to the Odessa community? The Record is trying to find out for you. We hope to have more information in the coming weeks.


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