Just got back from the Whitman County Commissioners meeting in Colfax. I was there, along with fellow BREO members Russ and April Coggins, to express support for the proposed Hawkins development infrastructure bond.
Nothing extremely earth-shattering was divulged, although it was interesting to hear that the the water rights Hakwins receives will be turned over to the county as part of this deal. That has not been reported previously. Ed Schultz, chairman of the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board, stated that this would necessitate another formal transfer approval process.
No one present was in opposition to the project, but some citizens had some probing questions such as: Was the meeting legal?; Would this set a precedent for all future development?; Why didn't all developers get this help from the county?; etc., etc.
Commissioner Jerry Finch said that in a perfect world, Hawkins would pay for the infrastructure all on their own, but the time has come that if the county doesn't partner with Hawkins on this, they will walk. April and others pointed out that the infrastructure is a valuable investment in the county's future, as it can be used for future development in the corridor. If Hawkins owned it, it couldn't be. A developer from Pasco, who owns land in the corridor and was on hand to voice his support, said this kind of public/private partnership is becoming more and more common.
I was glad to see that Paul Kimmell of the Greater Moscow Alliance was on hand. I made a comment to the effect that hopefully his presence at the meeting was indicative of future cooperation between our two governments. Paul, who works for Avista, is no longer executive director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce of course, but he was instrumental in getting at least one of the new Moscow City Council members elected and I'm sure one reason he was there was to report back to them.
If Moscow drops its water rights transfer appeals and extends water service to the Hakwins development, its a win-win for everyone. Whitman County wins by getting a piece of the Palouse sales tax pie and Moscow wins by also getting a piece of the action (a little of something is far better than a whole lot of nothing), as well as benefitting from spillover business attracted to the new mall, including Lowe's, which would be a new store for the Quad Cities.
Much more later. Rory Curtiss of KMAX, Evan Ellis of KQQQ, Devin Rokyta of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Joe Smillie of the Whitman County Gazette, and David Johnson of the Lewiston Tribune were all on hand, so expect this to be well covered in the media.