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Hearing Held on Newport Smelter Land Sale

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Julie McKay held a hearing today [Friday] on a lawsuit deals with a land transfer for a controversial smelter proposal in Pend Oreille County.

A suit filed by opponents of a proposed silicon smelter near Newport claims the Pend Oreille Public Utility District illegally bought a parcel of land from the county to sell to a Canadian company, PacWest Silicon.

Attorney Rick Eichstaedt, who represents the smelter opponents, says the sale of the parcel by the county to the PUD should have been for energy purposes only. And he says the sale did not follow state laws.

“In order to sell property to the smelter, one of two things has to happen," Eichstaedt said. "It needs to be approved by a vote of the people. Or the PUD commissioners need to declare the property surplus. Neither of those things happened.".

Eichstaedt says after the PUD was notified it was violating the law, it did an after-the-fact move to declare the property surplus.

Friday's event was a summary judgment hearing, meaning the judge will determine if the case will have to go to a full trial. That decision is expected in about a month.


Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.