Tribal court process to settle WSFPI business

Tribal Council and staff are working on a plan to sell logs from the reservation forest. These are a valuable tribal trust asset.
The logs were initially intended for sale to Warm Springs Forest Products Industries.

Since the enterprise is in receivership, the plan now is to sell them on the open market to the highest bidder.

The logs and lumber at the mill will also be sold. The ownership of some of these assets is in dispute.

What may happen is that the log and lumber assets at the mill will be sold, as time will be of the essence.

The money received from the sale would then be held until the dispute as to ownership is resolved.

The process of settling the WSFPI finances is a tribal court receivership. The logs that are currently in the woods are not part of the receivership, as these are tribal property.

This may be the first tribal enterprise in the U.S. to be subject to a tribal court receivership process. The receiver is Edward Hostmann, and Edward Hostmann Inc.

The receivership was filed in tribal court on May 2. A judge pro temp, Judge Haslinger from Deschutes County, is overseeing the legal process.

The receiver reports on a monthly basis to the judge.

As Mr. Hostmann explained, the receiver has authority on his own to take certain practical steps toward settling matters. Other actions require the judge’s prior approval.

Meanwhile, some of the displaced mill workers have found employment through the Branch of Natural Resources, the Warm Springs TERO office, and with other employers. A small crew remains at the mill site, providing necessary maintenance and also serving as security.

The Credit enterprise has been working with the displaced employees who have loans and monthly payments, said Lori Fuentes, Credit director. A payroll deduction is no longer taken, she said.

Composite Products chief executive officer Jake Coochise last week gave a Composite update at Tribal Council.

With the mill operation shut down, he said, an issue may came up regarding power and water service at Composite Products.

Composite will have a clearer picture of what may need to be done, when the tribes determine what exactly will happen to the mill facility.

The WSFPI receiver is scheduled to make his first report to the judge in June, at which point more information will be available.

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