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How the Enterprise produced the story on the disappearing tax break

Reporter Pat Caldwell, who has covered events in Malheur County for more than 20 years, got an important tip.

A source said something was wrong with tax credits promised to a new business. Pat went to work.

He learned quickly that indeed, Bluebird Express Car Wash, had applied for an exemption for local property taxes for five years. The company was about to build a new $4 million installation in Ontario. The tax break was key to the decision to build.

To pursue the facts, Pat interviewed Ontario city officials, the county assessor, and the county judge. He talked with state experts on tax exemptions. He talked with the head of Bluebird several times.

Bluebird applied for its tax exemption last November, working with the Malheur County Economic Development Department. In July, frustrated Bluebird officials reached out to . . .