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Challenge of Land Transfer To Smelter Company Overruled

A Spokane County Superior Court judge has ruled that the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District did nothing wrong when it sold a parcel of land it had purchased from the county to a Canadian smelter company.

The sale was challenged in court by groups opposed to the possible siting of a silicon smelter adjacent to Newport. The suit claimed that the parcel needed to be declared surplus before any sale, and that public input should have been taken.

But the judge in the case ruled in favor of the PUD and said no laws were broken in the sale to PacWest Silicon.

“The district is pleased the court reached the proper result in the case. We felt the proper result for the claims made were fairly clear cut under the law, ” said John Nelson, the attorney who represented the PUD.

Attorney Rick Eichstaedt, who represented those opposed to the land deal, says there were some loose ends that he feels might prove beneficial if there is an appeal.

“The judge realized there were irregularities in how the sale occurred. So I think any issue that will be considered by the Court of Appeals will be, is it a substantive irregularity is it a procedural irregularity? Is this enough to overturn the sale?” said Eichstaedt.

He says a decision whether to appeal is pending.

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.