Business & economy, Local government

State legislators will tour Malheur County to learn about rail center, gold mine

ONTARIO – State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, is scheduled to lead a group of Oregon lawmakers on a two-day economic development fact-finding tour of the county next week.

The tour is slated Tuesday, Aug. 23, and Wednesday Aug. 24.

The tour will include at least five state senators and possibly several state representatives.

While Findley labeled the event a tour, he said the overall aim is to familiarize elected leaders from other parts of the state regarding the unique challenges faced in Malheur County.

“It is more of a job of education. If I can get a better understanding with more people it will go a long way to getting Democratic support when we try to pass legislation,” said Findley.

Democrats hold majorities in both the Oregon House and Senate.

Findley said the final roster of legislators and the tour schedule is still being assembled.

“I’ve been working on this for a couple of months,” said Findley.

As of Monday, the schedule includes visits by the group with the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board, city of Ontario officials, a tour of the Treasure Valley Reload Center and a journey to the site of a proposed silver and gold mine at Grassy Mountain southwest of Vale.

Five state senators – Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, Sen. Kate Lieber, D-Beaverton, Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland and Sen. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale – have confirmed they will visit Malheur County.

Findley said on Aug. 23 lawmakers will meet with the border board in the morning to discuss economic development issues. At noon, he said, the legislators will convene with city of Ontario officials. That afternoon, he said, he will lead the group on a discussion and a short visit of the reload center construction site. Findley said he also plans to take the lawmakers over to Idaho Tuesday.

The intent of that is “to show them the development that could very well be in Ontario,” said Findley.

The day will wrap with an informal meet-and-greet event at the new Treasure Valley Community College Career and Technical Education building at 6 p.m.

“We wanted a chance to say thank you to them for coming to town,” said John Breidenbach, president of the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the lawmakers will meet with officials from Paramount Gold Nevada Corp., the firm planning to open the Grassy Mountain mine.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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